The Japan Foundation
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Condom 0.01
Condom 0.01
serial number Condom 0.01
(Oct. 25 – 31, 2019 at Shimokitazawa The Suzunari)
Photo: Megumi Hosaka
Data
Premiere: 2019
Length: 2 hr. 10 min.
Acts, Scenes:
Cast: Nine (9 men)
Artist Interview
Play of the Month Play of the Month
Mar. 30, 2020
Condom 0.01 by Roba Shimori 
Condom 0.01 by Roba Shimori 
This is the latest work by Roba Shimori, a playwright who creates dramas based on extensive research on themes that link to contemporary society. Following her play for a cast of women only, Day of Anne (2017), about the R&D department of a company manufacturing women’s sanitary napkins, this play deals with issues of love and sex set in a company that manufactures condoms as it develops a new product. In their efforts to develop a super-thin condom, nine male employees are forced to take a closer look at their own lives.
•••
Prologue. The setting is at the preparation for the annual year-end event for employees at the Masamune Rubber Works company, a manufacturer of condoms. The employees are in high spirits for the fact that the company has succeeded in developing a condom with a record thinness of just 0.01 millimeter. Wakabayashi of the Sales Department is recalling when the development project began three years earlier.

The head of the R&D Department, Tokui, enters a meeting between Muramoto of the R&D Department and Himura of the Machine Development Department to announce that the president has ordered the restart of the project to develop a condom with a thinness of 0.01 mm. As the three main members of the development team, Tokui, Muramoto and Himura talk about how difficult it was to achieve the current thickness of 0.02 mm. Muramoto is having trouble keeping up with the conversation. We learn that Himura has also been unable to tell his girlfriend that he works for a condom manufacturer. Himura confesses how late he was to lose his virginity.

The Planning Department. The director of the Planning Department, Kawanishi, members of the Sales Department, Date (grandson of the company founder) and Wakabayashi, and Miki of the PR department are having a meeting. The “Condom Angels” (Tokui, Muramoto, Hayakawa, Kitazawa and Himura) dressed up in angel costumes are explaining how condoms are made.

An R&D Department meeting. The conversation turns to the fact that CS Committee has been formed to think about the issues of Customer Satisfaction with the 0.01 mm condom. Tokui says that the toughest part of the 0.01 mm condom development project will be the mass production, and stresses that a defective condom is a life-threatening issue. Hayakawa confesses about his first sex experience with a girl he had known from childhood.

The PR Department. Miki is explaining to Himura and Wakabayashi about the importance of having representatives from multiple department sitting on the CS Committee. Miki talks about his life as a demonstrator and the immorality of his first sex experience with a friend’s girlfriend.

The first 0.01 condom CS Committee meeting. Kitazawa recommends rethinking how to survey women for their opinions, while Himura proposes a survey about the present state of sex in Japan. Tokui expresses his skepticism and asks, “Who does eSex = 0.01’ belong to?” He goes on to say it is mainly men who purchase condoms, so the sales pitch should be from a man’s perspective. He says that in the process of 0.01 development they have lost grasp of its purpose and who it is for, so they should all take these questions home to think about again. Wakabayashi confesses about his clumsy and very common first sex experience in his second year of high school. The “Condom Angels” appear to explain about the history of condoms.

The Experiment Lab. A trial production of the 0.01 runs into trouble. Tokui tells how he proposed to his wife, who was the only female student in his university lab, and he confesses that he had sex for the first time after they got married.

Wakabayashi and Date are walking through town. Wakabayashi is troubled by the CS Committee question and he probes Date on it. Date makes an unsolicited confession that regardless of being the heir to a condom company, he didn’t use one when he had sex for the first time with a senior in his junior year of high school.

The reference library. The two men, Miki and Kawanishi, who are popular with the women are talking about love and sex. Unprompted, Kawanishi talks about the married high school teacher who was his first love and the intense sexual experience he had.

The R&D lab. The “Condom Angels” explain about the proper way to put a condom on. Kitazawa mourns that his wife has said that she wants a divorce because she can’t tell her daughter that is just entering nursery school what her father’s job is. Hearing this, Himura gets up the courage to call his girlfriend and tell her the truth about his job. Kitazawa confesses that he thought things had been going well ever since he gave up his virginity at a prostitution club after being an introvert in his student days.

The second 0.01 CS Committee meeting. Known for his love for his wife, Hayakawa starts off by saying that after talking with his wife, they had decided that the 0.01 condom belongs to both the man and the woman. Himura says that when you consider the severity of going through conception and giving birth, isn’t the 0.01 primarily for the woman. Tokui gets emotional as he retorts by saying, “Isn’t that way of thinking unrealistic.” Tokui’s daughter was almost sexually victimized when she was looking for employment. He says that since human females don’t have a period of heat like other animals, this is a question that involves the woman’s freedom of choice concerning pregnancy and childbirth, and so he wants to think more about it.

Working late at the R&D Department. Muramoto confesses to Tokui that he suffers from erectile dysfunction (ED) and has never had sex, so he has no right to be involved in developing the 0.01 condom. Muramoto confesses that the cause of his ED is probably the trauma of his parents’ divorce because of his father’s domestic violence, but he plans to continue working until the 0.01 development is finished. Himura appears to announce that a test production has been successful.

The third 0.01 CS Committee meeting. Tokui says, “Condoms are a man’s thing. But we need to change the awareness of the users.” Kawanishi tells about an episode involving his mother. On his 16th birthday his mother gave him condoms as a present, but he had been too embarrassed to open the present. His mother died when he was 20. The present had contained a letter from his mother that said she had become pregnant against her will when she was 16, and she hoped that he would grow to be a man who understood and respected the wishes of women. Date said, “Being able to have sex without worry, and at times perhaps when you decide to have a child and choose not to use a condom. That is what we can help give people.”

In the R&D Department. Kitazawa says that his wife is going to divorce him, and that it seems she has another man. His colleagues console him. Tokui tells about the sexual harassment his daughter suffered and that the culprit had been demoted.

Epilogue. As soon as it was released the 0.01 condom became a best-seller. Muramoto and Date are transferred to the factory in Malaysia where they are made. When Muramoto says that his girlfriend accepted the fact that he works in a company that makes condoms so he now has someone to sleep with, Date replies, “It’s good that people can accept different ways of being.”

Profile:
Born in Sendai, Miyagi Pref., Roba Shimori is a playwright and director. She founded the Fukinkobo (Windy Harp) theater company in 1993. Since then she has responsible for all of the company’s playwriting and directing. She is acclaimed for her diligent research that takes her to all parts of the country and applying her own perspective to craft tightly woven dialogue plays. She is also known for the speedy and drama-savvy spirit and power of her directing. Her diverse subject matter ranges from historical drama, the finance industry and development of vehicles for the disabled to ice hockey.
In 2008, her diptych hg, based on meticulous research to directly confront the issue of the Minamata disease epidemic drew widespread attention from newspapers and other media. In 2010, her play Sousou Kyoshitsu (Funeral Classroom) about the crash of Japan Airlines flight 123 on August 12, 1985 shortlisted in the Tsuruya Namboku Memorial Drama Award. In 2013, her play Kokugo no Jikan (Japanese Language Class) set in Korea during the Japanese colonization era (written by Kiyoshi Ori, directed by Roba Shimori) won the Best Play award of the Yomiuri Drama Awards. In 2016, Shimori was awarded the Individual Award of the Kinokuniya Drama Awards for the play Zanka about a traveling theater troupe that suffered radiation poisoning from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima that included the former Takarazuka star Keiko Sonoi (Production: Iwate Arts Center) and the play Insider about the inner workings of the financial world. In 2017, She won the New Artist Award of the 2017 Minister of Culture and Science Awards for her play Anne’s Days and other works. In 2018, Shimori began activities anew as the unit “serial number” with actor Ryo Tajima. In 2020, she nominated as the Japan Academy Prize for the best screenplays for the movie Newspaper Reporter.
 
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