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.
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.
Oriza Hirata's "contemporary colloquial theater" theory has drawn much attention since the 1990's and has had a great influence on the Japanese theater.
Life is not a continuous string of significant events such as love affairs and murders. The main portion of life is filled with quiet and uneventful moments. Hirata often uses such quiet moments for his theatrical works. Our existence itself is already dramatic and amazing. By nature, life contains complicated and fertile aspects. Life can be entertaining, graceful, funny, and stupid at any moment. We abstract and then reconstruct on stage these complicated elements. Thus we try to present the quiet moments of life on stage directly.
What makes Seinendan quite different from other theater companies of our generation is that we have always kept our theory and practice open to society through workshops and through Hirata's books, including "Gendai Kogo Engeki no tameni (For Contemporary Colloquial Theater)," "Toshini Shukusaiwa Iranai (Cities Need No Festivities)," "Engeki Nyumon (Introduction to Drama)," and "Geijutsu Rikkoku-ron (Arts as the Basis of a Nation)."
The direction toward a completely new type of theater that Hirata and Seinendan have taken so far has been slow but steady, based on our practical and new theater theory. We continue our creative work in the confident belief that when "contemporary colloquial theater" is complete, it should mark the birth of a true contemporary theater that reflects the intricate mentality of contemporary society in Japan.
Hirata's theory, built to fit the characteristics of the Japanese language, is also gaining popularity and received enthusiastically overseas as a truly original theater theory. Hirata has been giving workshops in various places including France, Korea, Canada and Southeast Asian countries.