It is four years since the death of playwright and director Shogo Ohta. Beginning from Oct. 7, there will be performances in four cities in Japan and the Republic of Korea of Ohta’s play
(Suna no Eki, premiered 1993), the last in the playwright’s “Station” series, of “Water,” “Wind” and “Sand” with which he established the “silent theater” genre.
These performances have been planned on the belief that Ohta’s works with their use of silence as a potent means of expression have an important message to communicate in today’s world, where tangible experiences of life itself are getting fewer and fewer. For the Japan-Korea joint production this time, the director and adapter is one of Korea’s leading theater directors, Kim A-ra, who also directed a production of The Wind Station
(Kaze no Eki) in Seoul in 2009. The actors include Ren Osugi, Rieko Suzuki, Toru Shinagawa and other’s from the Tenkei Gekijo theater company formerly led by Ohta. Also joining the cast will be the Butoh artists Mitsuyo Uesugi, who performed in the play’s premiere. Joining the cast from the ROK are veteran actors Paik Sung-Hee and Kwon Sung-Duck, the 2009 winner of Korea’s best theater actor award, Nam Myeong-Ryeol, plus a number of younger actors.
After work-in-progress performances at the National Theater of Korea in Seoul on Oct. 7-8 the production moves on to the LIG Arts Hall in Pusan (Oct. 15 – 16), the Paik Sung-hee/Chang Min-ho Theater in Seoul (Oct. 22 – 23) and then on to Japan for performances at the Setagaya Public Theatre in Tokyo (Nov. 3 – 6).
Founded the theater company Tenkei Gekijo in 1968. Employing a unique style that emphasized the expressive potential of silence combined with exceedingly slow movement, Ota gave birth to a new genre of theater called chinmoku geki
, or silent (wordless) theater. He won the 22nd Kishida Kunio Drama Award for Komachi Fuden
(The Tale of Komachi Told by the Wind, premiered 1977). The play Mizu no Eki
(The Water Station, premiered 1981) is performed completely without spoken lines as it depicts a series of characters stopping at a “water station” where a small stream of water flows from a single faucet. This play became one of Ota’s representative works that has since toured to 24 cities around the world. It was followed by Chi no Eki
(The Earth Station) and Kaze no Eki
(The Wind Station) in what became known as Ohta’s “Silent Theater Trilogy.” After the dissolution of his theater company in 1988, Ohta served as artistic director at the Shonandai Culture Center Public Theater in Kanagawa Prefecture and taught at as a professor of Kinki University and Kyoto University of Art and Design. He passed away on Sept. 13, 2007 at the age of 67.