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Japanese Title: Tango Fuyu no Owari ni
English Title: Tango at the End of Winter
Author: SHIMIZU, Kunio
Author's Profile: Playwright and director, SHIMIZU Kunio was born in 1936, in Niigata, Japan. He graduated from Waseda University's School of Letters, Arts and Sciences, where he changed his major from fine arts to drama in 1958. He won the Teatro Drama Award and the Waseda Drama Award for his first work, "Signatory" (first performed in 1960). SHIMIZU joined Iwanami Film Productions when he graduated from Waseda University and wrote screenplays there for five years before leaving the company.
He formed a theatre troupe called Sakura Company with NINAGAWA Yukio and others in 1972, and won the 18th Iwata Drama Award in 1974 for his work, "When We Go Down the Heartless River," the same year the Sakura Company was dissolved. SHIMIZU established another theatre company group in 1976 called the Winter Tree Company (now known as the Theatre Enterprise Winter Tree Company). He won the 11th Kinokuniya Drama Award in the Individual Category for the first performance of his play, "Hey, it's Evening! The Soft Flush of the Evening Calls to Me." Throughout his career, SHIMIZU received various awards, including the 35th Yomiuri Literary Prize in 1983 for his play, "Elegy," the 29th Kinokuniya Drama Award in the Group Category in 1994 for his play, "I Dreamt of My Childhood Friend," and the Purple Ribbon Medal in 2002.
At present, SHIMIZU is a professor at the Department of Moving Images and Performing Arts in the Faculty of Art and Communication Evening Division at Tama Art University, and is also an executive director of the Japan Playwrights Association.
First Performance:   1984 (first performed in London in 1991 as Tango at the End of Winter, directed by Yukio Ninagawa)
Performance time:  
Acts / Scenes: 7 scenes
Cast: 7 (3 men, 4 women), and several imaginary characters.


This play depicts the life of an actor who refused to face reality and lived deep in his own beautiful world of illusions and the people who knew him.


Sei Kiyomura used to be quite a renowned and talented actor, but three years ago he decided to shun the limelight and now remains holed up in his rural retreat. Unable to completely erase the memory of his celebrated days as an actor, Sei is gradually being overcome by psychological delusions. He now haplessly passes his time chasing the memory of his youth, when he once stole a stuffed peacock. Sei's birthplace is a cinema that used to throng with visitors but is now dilapidated and scheduled for demolition.

One day, NAWA MizuoĐan actress who frequently played opposite Sei - pays him a visit with her husband, Ren. She once had a brief love affair with Sei and still secretly pines for him, but Sei has no recollection of that chapter of his life. It was Sei's wife, Gin, who actually invited Mizuo to their home hoping to snap him out of his reverie and revitalize him by reuniting him with this young and beautiful actress. In fact, their affair was also of Gin's connivance as she thought that bringing these two actors together would make Sei more attractive as an actor.
Despite this, Sei in fact genuinely loves Mizuo, and although he feigns to remember nothing of the past, she realizes how he feels. Bidding him farewell, Mizuo recites the lines of a play about freedom and revolution they acted in together and both of them, arm-in-arm, prance about the room in a tango. When their dance reaches a climax, Sei hands Mizuo over to her husband, Ren, who has just appeared on the scene, and he himself falls into the arms of his wife, Gin. After their tango, however, Sei becomes increasingly deranged and proclaims that he has finally caught the peacock while clutching a floor cushion. Gin, who has always stood by Sei, is horror-struck by the state he is in and declares that she cannot bear it anymore and leaves the house.

Meanwhile, Mizuo wrestles the cushion away from Sei and tries to explain to him the difference between reality and fantasy. Sei becomes frenzied with rage and strangles Mizuo while uttering lines from Othello. He then turns towards an imaginary audience and begins to mumble, believing himself to be in the final performance of his career. Struggling to recall the lines, he finally remembers the words from the play he did about revolution. As he begins to dance the tango again, this time with an imaginary partner, while uttering his lines from the play, Ren strikes at him with a knife. Sei, however, still tries to go on dancing but collapses on the floor suddenly and at that moment there is an instant flash of a peacock.

Finally, Sei's wife Gin, who is about to depart, is seen looking back over the past. Her mind is going around in circles and she cannot stop thinking whether she should have acknowledged her husband's illusionary wanderings. She frets and mumbles to herself that she could not go on being with him any more. The play closes with Sei's cinema, now in ruins, swarming with visitors again.
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