The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Written and directed by Hideki Noda
Co-written by Colin Teevan
Premiere: 2008
Length: 1 hr. 20 min.
Cast: 4 (3 men, 1 woman)
Japanese Drama Database
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The Diver by Hideki Noda with Colin Teevan 
    The Diver is a play conceived by Hideki Noda as a contemporary English-language drama and written in collaboration with the Irish playwright Colin Teevan. It takes as its subject characters such as female pearl divers (ama) and Lady Aoi, that appear in the novel The Tale of Genji from the middle of Japan’s Heian Period (9th to 12th centuries) and subsequent Noh plays. It is the second original English-language play by Noda following the 2006 play THE BEE produced in collaboration with Teevan and British actors, which won the 2007 Asahi Performing Arts Awards Grand Prix and the Grand Prize for Best Play of the 15th Yomiuri Theater Awards. The Diver has been produced jointly by London’s Soho Theatre and Tokyo’s Setagaya Public Theater, where it is the fourth of the “Contemporary Noh Series” to create new works by leading contemporary playwrights based on traditional plays from the Noh repertoire.

    The principal characters are a male psychiatrist and a woman with a multiple personality disorder named Yumi, who is also a murder suspect. The story unfolds with an intertwining of the agonies and woes of Yumi and those of the pearl-diving ama and the female characters of the The Tale of Genji (Aoi no Ue, Yugao and Rokujo Miyasudokoro). In the unique staging, the same actress plays a contemporary woman and heroines and ghosts of ancient tales, while the other actors also play multiple roles with quick-changes, moving back and forth freely between eras and places. Effective use is made of numerous conventions of Noh theater, including the traditional Noh tsuzumi drum, and flute musical accompaniment (hayashi) and props such as fans and Noh masks.

Profile: Born: 1955
Noda launched his first theater company, Yume no Yuminsha, in 1976 while a student at Tokyo University. He wrote several notable works that propelled him to the fore of the 1980s Shogekijo, winning particular acclaim for his dramatic structures that move between real and mythical worlds with leaps in time and space, as well as his loquacious wordplay and energetic performance style. He disbanded the company in 1992 and went to London to study. On his return in 1993 he established NODA MAP, a production company that creates plays through workshops, and has come up with a succession of major hits. Noda has also taken his theater abroad, performing Akaoni (Red Demon) in Thailand and the U.K. He has continued to experiment enthusiastically with different genres, including adaptations of the well-known Kabuki plays Togitatsu no utare (Revenge on Togitatsu) and Nezumi Kozo (Rat Bandit Kozo), and international collaborations, such as his 2006 play THE BEE, with British actors and international production team. Akaoni won the Grand Prix of the 2004 Asahi Performing Arts Award, and the British coproduction THE BEE, won the Grand Prix of the 2007 Asahi Performing Arts Awards as well as the Yomiuri Theater Awards.