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Born: 1951
Function: stage director playwright
Company: Nitosha

Nagai graduated in drama from Toho Gakuen College of Drama and Music. Nitosha, the theater company she established in 1981, is now a production company that continues to stage works that she writes and directs. Nagai also writes for many other organizations, such as the New National Theatre, Tokyo, and is one of Japan's most acclaimed playwrights. She is well known for her works focusing on the reality of the times through depictions of familiar places, subconscious problems, and issues such as language, gender, family, and community. She won the 44th Kishida Drama Award for Ani kaeru (Brother Returns), the 1st Tsuruya Nanboku Drama Award for Ranuki no satsui (Murderous Intent Caused by Omitting the Syllable "Ra"), and the 52nd Yomiuri Literature Prize for Hagi-ke no san shimai (The Three Hagi Sisters). Utawasetai otoko-tachi (Men Who Try to Make Them Sing) was unanimously acclaimed the best play of 2005, making a clean sweep of the major drama awards including the Asahi Performing Arts Awards. Nagai is also active abroad, with her plays read on stage in the U.K., the United States, and South Korea. She is a former president of the Japan Playwrights Association.

Toki no monooki (Time's Storeroom)
Set in 1961, just as Japan's economy is heating up for the Tokyo Olympics. The Shinjo family, poor but proud, do not yet have a television set. From the moment their mysterious woman lodger is given one, however, the whole family is sucked into the wave of change. The father cannot give up his dream of becoming a novelist, while his son is set on bringing about reforms at the university, and his daughter wants to be an actress. Grandmother Nobu presides over this family torn between hope and despair, as time ticks away inexorably for all of them.

First staged: 1994
Acts/scenes: 14 scenes
Cast: 16 (7 male, 9 female)
First staged by: Nitosha
[Translation] English/Russian: available from the Japan Playwrights Association

Utawasetai otoko-tachi (Men Who Try to Make Them Sing)
The background to this social comedy is the Tokyo Board of Education’s decision, in 2003, to punish teachers who fail to comply with the ruling to raise the flag and sing the national anthem at graduation ceremonies, which infringes on a clause in the constitution guaranteeing freedom of thought and conscience. The setting is a public high school in Tokyo, a few hours before the graduation ceremony. One teacher is opposed to singing the national anthem, while the principal and other teachers simply want the proceedings to go smoothly. The farcical events of the day are pervaded by a feeling of pathos.

First staged: 2005
Acts/scenes: 1 act
Cast: 5 (3 male, 2 female)
First staged by: Nitosha
[Translation] English: available from Nitosha