The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Japanese Drama Database
Japanese Title: Hyoryu Kazoku
English Title: The Family Adrift: The Jesus Ark Incident
Author: YAMAZAKI, Tetsu
Author's Profile: Born in Miyazaki prefecture in 1946. He left Hiroshima University in 1970 to join KARA Juro's theatrical troupe, the Situation Theatre, where he worked as an assistant director. He launched Transposition 21 theatre company in 1980 and began the "field notes on crime" drama series that is based on actual incidents. He received the prestigious Kishida Drama Prize in 1982 for "The Legend of Pisces" and "The Family Adrift"; the Kinokuniya Drama Award in 1987 for "A Diary of an Alien," "The Despondency of Jiro," and "The Incident of Makotomusubi." Presently, he heads the New Transposition 21 theatre company and its actor training school.
First Performance:   1981
Performance time:  
Acts / Scenes: 1 act
Cast: 8 (4 men, 4 women)


This play portrays the emergence and dynamics of cults in conjunction with the collapse of the conventional family.

Specifically, it uses the Jesus Ark incident for its framework.

On stage, a tatami mat, a table, and two chairs comprise a peculiar space. This is the house Rin, a young woman, inhabits. In the candlelight are revealed an elderly couple, who claim to have moved recently to their new house in this vicinity and ask Rin to take their photos. Nearby, the Man, who seems to be Rin's father, is sharpening some kitchen knives. A middle-aged couple called Mr. and Mrs. AOKI arrive and, saying they are the former owners of the house, reminisce over their family life there.
Eventually Rin and the Man settle down to have tea together, but there is some awkwardness about them. It turns out that Rin ran away from the Church that the Man presides over. As they begin their repast, Inukai, a neighbor, rushes in about his daughter, Chidori. Though suffering from acrophobia, she has climbed up to the roof of her house on the encouragement of the Man and is now stranded up there. Consoled by Rin, Chidori manages to get down, confronts her father, and insists that she is God's child. In a fury, Inukai hits her and drags her off stage. Assailed by fear, sadness and irritation with the visitors, Rin demands that they all leave the premises.

Although Rin and the Man return to their meal, the gap between them is unbridgeable, leading to further estrangement. The elderly couple that seemed happy have in fact lost their only son and are reduced to a life of wandering and petty theft. AOKI is deeply suspicious of his wife's relations with other men and torments her cruelly. In both cases, the mental and emotional sufferings of the couples explode into violence. Meanwhile, not only the Man, but also the women and the elderly man begin to sharpen knives. The sky brightens and darkens in turns, and as the weather finally clears up, the characters turn to the Man as if he were Noah and in a chant-like tone plead, "Please grant us rain. Then we can flow with the current. On the ark, unknown, we can float along forever."

The Jesus Ark Incident (1978-80)
Headed by Sengoku Jesus (Sengoku Takeyoshi), the members of the nonsectarian Christian cult, the Jesus Ark, moved from place to place to escape the pursuit of their biological families. This nomadic and communal style of living continued for over two years. Although Sengoku was sued for defamation, the case was eventually dropped. This incident attracted much media coverage as many young women were involved in the cult.
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