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Born: 1962
Function: stage director playwright
Company: Seinendan

Hirata is leader of the Seinendan theater company, manager of the Tokyo Komaba Agora Theater, a professor at Osaka University's Center for the Study of Communication-Design, and a visiting-professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University. In 1983 he founded a house company, Seinendan, at the Komaba Agora Theater and began writing and directing. His "contemporary colloquial theater" provided a fresh view of theater from the perspective of ordinary people going about their daily lives and led to the creation of Quiet Theater, a major school of the Shogekijo scene in the 1990s. Hirata writes many reviews and articles on theater as well as on literature, language, and all areas of the arts. He actively promotes international exchange through performances and workshops in France, South Korea, Australia, U.S., Canada, Ireland, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and China. Some of his plays are frequently performed overseas, including Tokyo note (Tokyo Notes), Soru shimin (Citizens of Seoul), and S kogen kara (From S Plateau). In 2007, his joint project with Centre Dramatique de Thionville-Lorraine, Wakare no uta (Chants d'Adieu), was staged entirely in French. In 2002 his Japan-South Korea coproduction of Sono kawa o koete, gogatsu (Across the River in May) at the New National Theatre, Tokyo won the Grand Prix of the Asahi Performing Arts Award, and in 2007 he staged a Japan-China coproduction, Kashuson—hana ni arashi no tatoe mo aru sa (Lost Village).

Photo: Aoki Tsukasa
Soru shimin (Citizens of Seoul)
Set in Seoul in 1909, just one year before Korea was fully colonized by Japan, this play depicts a day in the life of the Shinozakis, a Japanese family resident in the city. Although in no way malicious, they take their superiority for granted and this manifests itself through their frivolous conversations impervious to the turbulent times as well as through exchanges with their houseboys and various visitors. Influenced by Joyce’s The Dubliners, the play aims to express the stream of consciousness of the characters, combined with content worthy of a full-length novel, to a powerful effect.

First staged: 1989
Acts/scenes: 4 acts
Cast: 18 (7 male, 11 female)
First staged by: Seinendan
[Translations] French/English/Korean/Russian: available from Seinendan

Photo: Aoki Tsukasa
Wakare no uta (Songs of Farewell)
The setting is the living room of an old house in the outskirts of Tokyo being redeveloped for new housing. A wake for Takeo’s wife, a Frenchwoman named Marie, is coming to an end. Marie’s parents, younger brother, and former husband arrive and the peculiar manners and customs of Japanese funeral ceremonies are accentuated as they overhear the conversation between Takeo and the undertaker, and ask about things that as French people they find puzzling. The parents find it strange that Takeo does not weep for his wife, as Takeo reads to them a section from Arishima Takeo’s Chiisaki mono e (To the Little Ones) addressed to children who have lost their mother, and explains that he identifies with the feelings it expresses.

First staged: 2007
Acts/scenes: 1 act, 1 scene
Cast: 8 (5 male, 3 female)
First staged by: Coproduction by Centre Dramatique de Thionville-Lorraine and Seinendan
[Translations] French/Japanese: available from Seinendan