The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
First Performance: 1989
Performance time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Acts / Scenes: 4 scenes
Cast: 18 (7 men, 11 women)
Japanese Drama Database
*Plans call for a Japanese version of Citizens of Seoul directed by Frederic Fisbach to be performed at the Setagaya Public Theatre in Tokyo in December of 2005. Fisbach has been selected as the associate artist for the 2007 Avignon Festival with his works to be performed there. Also, a French-language version of Citizens of Seoul is scheduled to be performed at the Theatre National de Chaillot in October of 2006 directed by Arnaud Meunier.
Play of the Month Play of the Month
Citizens of Seoul    Oriza Hirata  
Citizens of Seoul    Oriza Hirata  
This play depicts a day at the house of a Japanese family that owns a stationery store in Hansong (present Seoul) in 1909, one year before Japan's so-called annexation of Korea, which was in reality the complete colonization of Korea by Japan.

The play opens in the summer of 1909 at the SHINOZAKI family's residence. The second Mrs. SHINOZAKI, who came from Japan after getting married to Mr. SHINOZAKI some years ago, cannot get used to life in Korea. The son doesn't have any idea what he wants to do with himself. The daughter devotes her time to literature. Nobody knows what the continental adventurers and houseboys are up to - probably nothing. The maids keep on jabbering about trifles. Various visitors call.
Time in this house passes, seemingly disconnected from the turbulent world outside. Through their low-key conversations, become apparent the sins of citizens without malice (such as subconscious discrimination), who take for granted their own superiority.

Hirata named this piece Citizens of Seoul after James Joyce's collection of short stories, The Dubliners, whose Japanese title is literally "Citizens of Dublin." Just as Joyce depicted the Dublin people under British rule in The Dubliners, Hirata aimed at depicting the streams of consciousness of the SHINOZAKIs and presenting their lives and the age in which they lived. Consisting of exchanges among such citizens, this piece enables the audiences to have a rich, meaningful experience as when one reads a full-length novel.

Citizens of Seoul has been translated into Korean, English, and French. The French translation by Rose-Marie Makino-Fayolle (Gens de Seoul) is published by Les Solitaires Intempestifs. Oriza Hirata wrote and directed Citizens of Seoul, 1919, a sequel, in 2000.

Profile : Born: 1962
As the operator of the Komaba Agora Theater, HIRATA has been involved in the small theater. Meanwhile, in 1983, he started the Seinendan troupe which uses that as a base, and began his activities as a playwright and director. As a proponent of "contemporary colloquial theater" theory, HIRATA reevaluated drama with the Japanese people's way of life as his starting point, and in the 1990s he formed a movement in small theater called quiet drama. He has written many works of drama theory explaining his own methods. He is highly regarded for his performance methods based on very precise calculation, and a series of works he created jointly with the dramatist MATSUDA Masataka attracted considerable attention. HIRATA has also deliberately pursued exchange with the provinces, for example by organizing theater festivals for regional theater troupes at the Komaba Agora Theater, and he has held workshops and performances around the country. He has also had many overseas performances. He is a full-time associate professor in the Department of Arts & Culture Studies at Obirin University, and producer at the Fujimi Culture Hall "Kirari Fujimi" in Fujimi City, Saitama Prefecture.