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NAITO Hironori
Born: 1959
Function: stage director playwright
Company: Minami Kawachi Banzai Ichiza

Naito was born in Tochigi Prefecture and is leader of the Minami Kawachi Banzai Ichiza theater company. He first became involved in theater in high school after seeing Hebi hime-sama (Snake Princess, written and directed by Kara Juro). In 1979 he enrolled in the Theatrical Arts Department of Osaka University of Arts and studied under Professor Akihama Satoshi, the late playwright and director, for four years. During that time he studied "how to create fakes within realism." He founded Minami Kawachi Banzai Ichiza theater company in 1980 while still a student, and has written and directed all their productions. Naito has turned his sights abroad, particularly to Asia, with performances in Korea (1987 and 1988) and China (1995). He is acclaimed for his writing and directing, which are firmly rooted in the foundations of contemporary theater, and has also written and directed works for other theaters. In 2000, he won the Yomiuri Theater Award for Best Director for Iwasaki Masahiro's Koko kara wa tooi kuni (A Country Far from Here). In 2005, he directed Kara Juro's Chokyoshi (The Trainer) at Tokyo's Theatre Cocoon and the Hyogo Performing Arts Center. Since 2003, following the closure of the Ogimachi Museum Square, he has been based at the Ultra Market (Osaka Castle Hall, West Warehouse). Recent publications include Naito Hironori: gekifu roku sono ichi (A First Collection of Plays by Naito Hironori), and Aoki-san chi no oku-san (Mr. Aoki's Wife).

Photo: Yakou Masahiko
Aoki-san chi no oku-san (Mr. Aoki’s Wife)
The protagonist of this play is a former high school baseball player with a past troubled youth. He has just started a job at a liquor store. The other four men in the shop always vie with each other to make deliveries to Mr. Aoki’s house, whose wife they all agree is a beauty. When the protagonist says that he too wants to make deliveries to Mr. Aoki’s house, the other guys start making unreasonable demands of him, pretending that he has to first undergo tough special training. Much of the play is filled with humorous ad-libbed quips, evoking the sensitivity and brittleness of youth.

First staged: 1990
Acts/scenes: 1 act, 1 scene
Cast: 6 (all male)
First staged by: Minami Kawachi Banzai Ichiza, THE GREAT

Photo: Miyauchi Katsu
Natsu yasumi (Summer Vacation)
A pile of junk, slanted pillars, a counter from a coffee shop, and a tatami mat from the alcove alongside the sliding door. This is the house by the sea occupied by youths waiting for fathers who don’t come home. Other times it’s more like a commune, a kind of cross between a tea shop, apartment, and a house. The backdrop of the story is the Great Hanshin Earthquake in which many buildings collapsed, and the lively youths portrayed are those who have lost their homes and livelihoods, and miss their fathers.

First staged: 1995
Acts/scenes: 1 act, 7 scenes
Cast: Originally performed with a cast of 26 (17 male, 9 female)
First staged by: Minami Kawachi Banzai Ichiza