Seinendan is a theater company formed by Oriza Hirata in Tokyo in 1983. We have been pursuing a new theatrical style through the practice of Hirata’s “contemporary colloquial theater theory.” This totally new style has had a strong influence on Japanese theater since the 1990s as well as on vast areas such as literature, linguistic study and language education.
Our goals include establishing a new form of expression that can even alter the framework of theater itself, based on a unique combination of our theatrical theory and practice.
Hirata claims that modern theater in Japan which started out by importing the Western modern theater has also lead to playwriting governed by the Western logic. Thus, he believes, writing styles and logical structures irrelevant to the Japanese language have been routinely practiced, and in trying to give those irrelevant styles reality the actors have been forced into distorted acting styles too. This is the heart of Hirata’s criticism of the conventional Japanese theater.
- ” Multiple conversations progress simultaneously,”
- ” lines are spoken so softly at times that they are hardly heard,”
- ” actors sometimes speak with their backs to the audience” ;
In the early days, these obvious characteristics of Seinendan’s performance alone were often pointed out. However, it must be emphasized that these are outcomes of our highly elaborate strategy in achieving our objective to creatively alter the whole framework of theater. Our strategy is to critically reconsider existing theatrical theories and to reconstruct delicate and dramatic space on stage. We believe that we can create such a space by basing our theater on the Japanese language and life style, while at the same time creating a new theatrical language which is a unified form of both written and spoken language.
Besides presenting pieces written and directed by Oriza Hirata, in 2002 Seinendan started a new system, “Seinendan Links,” for the actors and directors belonging to the company. For a Seinendan Links production, a director organizes his/her own cast and crew making use of the resources of Seinendan and the Komaba Agora Theater where Hirata is the artistic director. We are aiming at becoming a “theater company” in its true sense, scarce in number in present Japan, a group consisting of various directors, playwrights and actors and capable of presenting versatile productions.
In recent years Seinendan has been quite active worldwide, almost annually touring abroad. Especially in France, where Hirata’s pieces are more and more appreciated, his theater style and the high quality of Seinendan actors have been highly acclaimed.