The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Sangatsu no Itsukakan (Five Days in March)
Photo: Yota Kataoka
First Performance: 2004
Performance time: Approx 1 hour, 20 min.
Acts / Scenes: 2 acts, 10 scenes
Cast: 7 (5 men, 2 women)
art interview
Japanese Drama Database
Play of the Month Play of the Month
Sangatsu no Itsukakan (Five Days in March)  Toshiki Okada  
Sangatsu no Itsukakan (Five Days in March)  Toshiki Okada  
On March 21 (20th in U.S. time), 2003, the U.S. armed forces began bombing Iraq. This play tells about the actions of a few young couples during a period of five days spanning the two days prior to and two days after this date. What makes this play unique is that the actions of the young people are literally “told” rather than being “acted out” by the actors.

One of couples had just met at a live performance club in Roppongi and ended going straight from there to a love hotel in Shibuya, where they spent five days. Going out to eat from time to time, the couple Minobe and Yukki suddenly find that they are seeing Shibuya with fresh new eyes. Then there is Minobe’s friend, the slightly wired girl Miffy and the boy Azuma who she meets at a movie theater. There are also the two young men Yasui and Ishihara who are taking part, somewhat half-heartedly, in an antiwar march in Shibuya.

The play’s style is one in which the seven actors come on stage as “Actor 1” and “Actor 2” and proceed to take turns telling the audience the stories of the characters of the play as if they had just heard the stories from the characters themselves. For example, here is what one of the actors says: “OK. I guess I’ll begin telling the story of Five Days in March starting with day one. First of all, I think we’ll say this is set in March of last year and it’s the story of this guy named Minobe who wakes up one morning and realizes he’s in a love hotel and he’s like ‘Hey, I’m in a love hotel’ and, not only that, there’s this girl who’s like asleep beside him and he’s saying ‘I don’t know this chick’.” In this way, the actors don’t play the roles of the characters but simply relate their actions to the audience.

This work, which has no real plot or notable incidents occurring, is an attempt at a serious exploration of “present expression.” First of all it removes the deceptive theatrical element of how skillfully actors can “act out a role,” and then it tries to eliminate the artificiality that always exists to some degree in lines spoken by the actors when they are clearly from a drama-like script.

As a work born at the end of a quest for the most sincere form of expression in the present, Five Days in March skillfully juxtaposes the grand-scale event of “War” and what can be called the almost insignificance of real daily life, to succeed beautifully in giving form to the ungraspable sense of the present held by Japanese young people.

Profile: Born: 1973
Born in Yokohama, Toshiki Okada graduated from the Business Dept. of Keio University. In 1997 he established the solo unit “Chelfitsch,” creating the name from a child’s mispronunciation of the English word “selfish”. In order to create “works with the potential to go further” Okada uses a methodology, but he makes a point of “not holding on to the methodology to the point where it holds back the work but quickly letting go of it,” which may be strange sort of methodology in itself for creating plays. With the release of the work Karera no Kibo ni Mitore in March of 2001, Okada changed to a style using “super real” Japanese language. This produces works that have a slow-moving and noisy physical aspect. The Yokohama ST Spot is the base for his theater activities. In 2004, Five Days in March was the winner of the 49th Kishida Drama Award. The judges of this award praised Okada’s work for the strong sense of questioning it brings to the systems of theater and the fresh ideas he uses to turn that doubt into creative impetus. The work was also acclaimed for the skill with which it brings out the insubstantiality of present conditions in Japan.