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Who is that child, I wonder who?
Bungaku-za Atelier no Kai production of Who is that child, I wonder who? – From the Amagasaki Serial Murders
(Sept. 16 – 30, 2015 / Bungaku-za Atelier)
Written by: Minoru Betsuyaku
Directed by: Shinpei Fujiwara
Photo by: Maiko Miyagawa
Data
Premiere: 2015
Length: 1 hr. 40 min.
Acts/scenes: 1 Act, 6 Scenes
Cast: 10 (3 men, 7 women)
Artist Interview
Play of the Month Play of the Month
Mar. 14, 2016
Ano Ko wa Dare, Dare desho-ne – Amagasaki Renzoku Henshi Jiken yori (Who is that child, I wonder who? – from the Amagasaki serial murders) By Minoru Betsuyaku 
Ano Ko wa Dare, Dare desho-ne – Amagasaki Renzoku Henshi Jiken yori (Who is that child, I wonder who? – from the Amagasaki serial murders) By Minoru Betsuyaku 
This is the latest play written by Betsuyaku in 2015 for the Bungaku-za Atelier no Kai. It was performed at the Betsuyaku Minoru Festival that brought together 18 companies from across the Japanese theater company and theater scene with works old and new. Written in Betsuyaku’s signature “theater of the absurd” style, this play deals with the terrifying actual incidents that occurred in 2012, as the murders perpetrated by one woman brought about the complete downfall of a family.
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Scene 1. A woman ‘Woman 1) is singing the song “Ano Ko wa Dare, Dare desho-ne” as she arranges a set of old Girls Festival dolls on the tiered doll stand. A man of semi-gangster looking (Man 1) who appears to be the master of the house comes home from collecting debt payments to find this unknown woman who apparently has let herself into the house unannounced. She tells him she is “Sanchome no Miyoko” (Miyoko from 3rd Street).
  From this day on, Miyoko and her adopted son (Man 2) work their way into Man 1’s family with devastating results. There are plans in motion to have Man 1’s two granddaughters marry Miyoko’s two adopted sons, and the same time Miyoko is planning to make them legally her adopted daughters. Now we find Man 1’s son (Man 3) tied up and Miyoko’s adopted son Man 2 with a kitchen knife in his hand saying that the old woman Man 1 lives with (presumably his wife) is dead.

Scene 2. Most of the Girls Festival dolls have been put away. Using her skill with words and lies when necessary, Miyoko is succeeding in taking control of the Man 1’s family, hiding the fact of the old wife’s death and proceeding with the plans for the marriage of the two granddaughters; and by now she is living in the house unchallenged. Also, with no one’s knowledge, she has gone to the company where Man 1’s the son, Man 3, works and filed his resignation, surely with the intention of getting his retirement money.
  Then the family is told [by Miyoko] that the son, Man 3, was found to have been illegally using the company’s money, fired from the company and then committed suicide by jumping from the roof of a building.

Scene 3. Sitting on straw mats eating lunch, three women from the neighborhood (Woman 5, Woman 6 and Woman 7) are chapping. It is unclear whether it is fact or fantasy, but they are talking about the means they used/would use to kill their husbands.

Scene 4. Man 1, accompanied by his daughter, Woman 4, is pushing a cart carrying a coffin with his son’s body in it on the way to the crematorium. It seems that Miyoko has thrown the family into confusion by taking all matters into her own hands, doing things like suddenly changing the crematorium they will use and deciding by herself who will represent the family as the chief mourner of the funeral. Also, no one knows what has happened to the retirement money resulting from the son’s resignation that she filed by herself without anyone’s consent. Man 1 and his granddaughter, Woman 4 are dumbfounded and stand in shock when they hear that Miyoko has claimed that Woman 4 has stolen the retirement money and had the police post a wanted person bulletin.

Scene 5. In front of the Girls Festival doll stand, Miyoko is threatening the granddaughter, Woman 3, who is in her wedding dress, apparently having run away from her wedding at the last moment. As Miyoko presses her asking where she is trying to run away to, the fact is revealed that Man 1 has been sending women to work as prostitutes at the brothel known as Yokohama’s Kotobuki Inn. Also, it is revealed that in the past, the granddaughter Woman 2 became pregnant at Kotobuki Inn with the child of Miyoko’s adopted son, Man 2, whose was engaged to marry her sister, Woman 3. Despite the revelations, Miyoko is determined to go through with the wedding, but after a distraction when a local patrolman comes around to the house seeking possible information about a series killings of cats that has occurred in the neighborhood, they find Woman 3 dead in the bath room, having hung herself.

Scene 6. Man 1 is now caring for the baby that Man 2 (Miyoko’s adopted son) left in his care before he ran away. His granddaughter, Woman 2, has fallen from a bridge and died.
  Two neighborhood women (Woman 6 and Woman 7) are recalling an incident during the Girls Festival long ago where a man had raped a woman who had snuck into his house in front of the doll stand.
  Miyoko confesses that long ago, when she snuck into a house and saw a mother and two small daughters in front of the Girls Festival doll stand, she got the idea that if she could work her way into that family she could become “Miyoko,” so she got on good terms with the mother and later killed her.
  However, when the fact was revealed that the same Girls Festival dolls had been lent back and forth between two houses every three years, the possibility emerged that Miyoko had worked her way into the wrong family.
  To a young Woman 4 who as run away from the Kotobuki Inn brothel, Man 1 informs her that Miyoko has committed suicide in jail, after which the two part. Man 1 is left standing alone in the wind in front of the baby carriage of the child he is caring for.

Profile: Born: 1937
Born in former Manchuria (northeastern China), Betsuyaku dropped out of Waseda University's School of Political Science and Economics. He was influenced by Beckett's Theater of the Absurd and founded the Waseda Shogekijo company together with Suzuki Tadashi. His plays Zo (The Elephant, 1962) and Macchi uri no shojo (The Little Match Girl, 1966) were highly acclaimed and he won the 13th Kishida Drama Award for Akai tori no iru fukei (A Scene With a Red Bird, 1967). In 1971 he won the Kinokuniya Theater Award for Machi to hikosen (A Town and an Airship) and Fushigi no kuni no Arisu (Alice in Wonderland). The following year he won the “New Artist” award of the Ministry of Education’s Selected Artists Encouragement Awards for Soyosoyo-zoku no Hanran (revolt of a gentle family), and in 1987 he won the Yomiuri Literature Award for his collection of plays titled Shokoku wo Henreki Suru Futari no Kishi no Monogatari (tale of the foreign travels of two knights). In 1988, his play Giovanni no Chichi e no Tabi (Giovanni’s journey to his father) won the Minister of Education Award for the Arts. As of 2013, he has completed 138 works, including plays, children's stories, and humorous essays. His nonsense "—zukushi" series, including titles such as Mushi-zukushi (A World Full of Bugs), which turns conventional biology on its head, Mononoke-zukushi (A World Full of Ghosts) about the true nature of ghosts in ancient and modern Japan, and others on animals, birds, and fish, was a big hit. Other works such as his criminology essay Hanzai shokogun (Criminal Syndrome), an astute analysis of the darker mechanisms at work behind sensational crimes, reveal the full breadth of Betsuyaku's creative and intellectual interests.
 
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