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SUZUE Toshiro
Born: 1963
Function: stage director playwright actor

Born in Osaka, Suzue is one of the most acclaimed playwrights to have emerged from the Kansai region in recent years. He first became involved in theater while a student at Kyoto University, and in 1993 he founded the Hachi-ji Han troupe in Kyoto. Since then he has written and directed all their productions and has also acted in some. Suzue has won many awards, including the Teatro in Cabin Drama Award and the OMS Drama Award, considered gateways to success for playwrights from the Kansai region, as well as the Theater Cocoon Drama Award and the Kishida Drama Award. His major work is Tomodachi ga kita (My Friend Has Come), in which a university student is visited one summer's day by a former high school classmate who is supposed to be dead and they talk about the past. This is representative of Suzue's credo of drama featuring sensitive but increasingly erratic conversations that emerge from the mindset of profoundly introverted contemporary Japanese. Since 1994, together with Matsuda Masataka and Tsuchida Hideo, he has been publishing the magazine Leaf, dedicated to drama criticism and creation. Suzue's plays have been translated into English, German, Russian, and Indonesian. In December 2007 he set up Office Shiroinuma to coordinate his activities.

Photo: Yakou Masahiko; OMS Production
Tomodachi ga kita (My Friend Has Come)
It is summer. Two men are lying on a baking tatami floor joking around and having fun. One has come home for his first summer holiday since entering university and is meeting his old friend for the first time in a while. The friend is from the same high school kendo club. He should be thirsty, but he won’t accept even so much as a glass of water. Perhaps he isn’t thirsty because he met his death in water? The pair spar using imaginary kendo swords, but of course the dead friend doesn’t win any of the bouts. “I don’t want you to forget me,” he says before disappearing, still without drinking any water.

First staged: 1994
Acts/scenes: 1 act, 9 scenes
Cast: 2 (2 male)
First staged by: Futari no Sajikiseki
[Translation] English: available from Office Shiroinuma

©Office Shiroinuma
Yakusoku dake (Only a Promise)
This play is set in the near future. With the society continuing to age and class divisions growing, the nation is in decline and economic refugees are fleeing overseas. Wars and the suppression of human rights within the country are rampant. To escape Japan, three women and a yakuza gangster have come to Europe to work illegally, living with the threat of discovery. Nevertheless, they continue with their heads full of various problems— their families at home in Japan, the inability to contact a white man whose child one of them is pregnant with, falling in love with a white woman having initially only been using her to acquire a resident permit...

First staged: 2007
Acts/scenes: 1 act, 7 scenes
Cast: 4 (1 male, 3 female)
First staged by: Johin Geijutsu Engekidan