Oriza Hirata and Seinendan's extensive educational activities are as follows.

Workshops to Let Them Think on Their Own

Our workshops, often accompanying our tour productions, are a tool to deepen the audience's understanding of our shows. Lectures are held for the same purpose. With this new and comprehensive tour system, audiences become more than passive, onetime spectators.
Unlike conventional theater classes, we don't teach theatrical techniques but show them how to see the world and people through theater. We believe a play is a presentation of the director's view of theater, how he/she sees the world and what he/she thinks human beings are like. Seinendan workshops introduce Hirata's view of theater and let the participants start to think what theater is on their own.

Anybody Can Participate in Theater-Making.
Still, It's Complex and Sophisticated

The Komaba Agora Theater, Seinendan's home base where Hirata is artistic director, is a house for exchange of information between both national and international theatre troupes. Hirata has been playing a great role in introducing regional theater companies to Tokyo audiences for almost 20 years through Agora Theater's various programs including the End-of-Millennium Theater Festival where he was festival director. Hirata's prescient efforts facilitated regional theaters to get much attention in the 1990s. Hirata continues to extend his range of collaborative activities. In the spring of 1999 he was festival director of Toga Spring Festival, and from 2002 to 2007 he was artistic director of Fujimi CultureHall Kirari Fujimi, Saitama Prefecture.

"I don't understand the theme of this play," "What did the author want to convey?" were among the frequent comments from first-time Seinendan spectators. It's because our works are contemporary theater without "themes" or "explicit stories" in the ordinary sense. The audience in contemporary theater needs not to pursue "themes" but to confront directly how the creator of the piece sees the world. It may be similar to when you appreciate contemporary art pieces.

The workshop attendants try their hand at acting, directing, and playwriting, different aspects of theater-making, and experience their difficulties and joys. Theater is something "anyone can participate in but at the same time is complex and sophisticated." There are more ways to enjoy theater than pursuing the themes: through the script, directions, lines and movements. These are the things we would like to communicate to them.

We seek to contribute to making theater more open to the society and people.

Workshops Adapted to Local Needs

Audience education is not the only goal of our workshops. We conduct various programs according to the local needs. In theatrically active communities, where most participants have some theater experience, for example, we can be more focused on know-how and techniques they can use right away in their coming activities. Where most of them are unfamiliar with theater, we may hold a workshop for high school drama club students so they can lead the next generation in the future. If there are no theater groups or high school in the community, we will set the goal of letting the participants know how to enjoy and appreciate theater.

In addition to Oriza Hirata's workshops, in recent years other members have been offering scenography, lighting, acting, administration and arts management workshops. By combining them, the participants can get the overall feel of the performing arts.

Workshop-Related Videos and Books

● "Workshop: Oriza Hirata's Dramatical Grammar (Taikan Workshop: Hirata Oriza no Bunpo)"
Kinokuniya, 1996 ¥4,990 ISBN:4-906329-33-0 (Japanese only / No language or commentary subtitles / NTSC)
This video is a recording of one of Oriza Hirata's workshops held in Kyoto.
● "Introduction to Drama (Engeki Nyumon)"
Kodansha Gendai Shinsho series, 1998 ¥730 ISBN:4-06-149422-8
Oriza Hirata talks about acting and directing, as well as the structure of plays.
●"Acting and Directing (Engi to Enshutsu)"
Kodansha Gendai Shinsho series, 2004 ¥730 ISBN:4-06-149723-5
Oriza Hirata talks about basic parts of creating plays.
All books written in Japanese.

Incorporation of Hirata's Workshop Method
in a Japanese Language Textbook

Based on our workshop experiences, Seinendan has developed original workshop methods and educational tools. One of the most significant achievements in this area is the adoption of Hirata's workshop method by a Japanese textbook for secondary education in 2002, when new teaching guidelines were introduced to secondary education in Japan. Now, approximately 200,000 students a year create theater in their classrooms, using Hirata's method. Hirata now visits schools throughout Japan, demonstrating how to put his method into practice.

University Education

Hirata was a professor of theater at Obirin University from 2000 to 2006, where he pioneered a new theater education program which is comprehensive as well as open to society. One of the most significant achievements in Obirin was the Seinendan-Obirin joint production of "Mo Kazemo Fukanai (Wind Blows No More)" in 2004. The next year the production went on tour around Japan, sponsored by JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Japan's International Cooperation.

Hirata moved to Osaka University Center for the Study of Communication-Design in 2006, where he now focuses on "how to develop communication ability through education". He holds a variety of courses, mainly for graduate students, on "communications as a liberal culture" through theater.

In collaboration with Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University, which researches the highest global standard technology in the field, Hirata produced the first-ever play casting robots as actors and successfully held an experimental performance at the university. Now the production is in development to be shown in a legitimate theatre environment with the premiere scheduled at Aichi Triennale in 2010.

Overseas Educational Promotion Activities

Hirata's workshops have received international high acclaim. He has given workshops in numerous countries: France, Italy, Belgium, the U.S.A., Korea, Hong Kong, Southeast Asian countries, Australia and the U.K.

From January to March 2006, he was a short-term visiting professor at the University of Victoria, Canada, teaching dramatic art. In addition, ƒcole Normale SupŽrieure, Lyon, France has invited Hirata as a visiting professor in February and March 2010.

His method and activities have also drawn much attention in Japanese teaching circles around the world, and he has been invited to give workshops and lectures in many countries.

In 2007, a Japanese language course in CD-Rom, based on Hirata's play "Tokyo Notes," was released.

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