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Born: 1956
Function: playwright actor
Company: Hirosaki Gekijo

Hasegawa was born in Aomori Prefecture. After graduating from university in 1978, he established the Hirosaki Gekijo theater company based in Aomori, far from the theater world polarized in Tokyo, and has since written and directed almost all of their productions. Hasegawa has developed an original technique whereby the individual actors adapt their lines from the scripts that he writes in standard Japanese to their own style of speech. His reputation has been built by plays set in, say, a hospital, school, or funeral hall, in which people's lives, deaths, and work unfold through daily-life conversations rich with local expression. In 1995 he won the Japan Playwrights Association's Outstanding New Playwright Award for Shokuinshitsu no gogo (Afternoon in the Teachers' Room), a work based on his own experience as a high school teacher. Fragment VII Azami (The Thistle: Part VII of the Fragment series) was nominated for the 2001 Kishida Drama Award. Hasegawa is actively pursuing international collaborations with Indian Summer, featuring actors from Thailand and the Philippines in 2002, and in his capacity as general artistic director of the Aomori Prefectural Art Museum, Souru no ame (Rain in Seoul) with the South Korean Golmokgil Theater Company in 2007.

Photo: Tanaka Nagare (production of 2004)
Ie ni wa takai ki ga atta (A House with a Big Tree)
This play is about the Kanzakis, an old, established family in the Tohoku region. A funeral is being held at the Kanzaki house for the grandfather who has passed away at the age of 95. The family members gathered include his three grandsons and the youngest granddaughter. Except for the eldest, Tatsuo, everyone lives in a different prefecture. The grand-children’s father disappeared when they were still small and they were brought up by their now deceased grandfather. They are all in their thirties and bear complex feelings of hatred towards their father. At this funeral, they once again find themselves confronting family and blood relationships. A masterpiece that was invited to the Theater der Welt 2005 in Germany.

First staged: 1994
Acts/scenes: 1 act, 1 scene
Cast: 11 (5 male, 6 female)
First staged by: Hirosaki Gekijo

Photo: Yokoyama Hideki
Fragment VII Azami (The Thistle; Part VII of the Fragment series)
The Fragment series is noted for its long monologues that bring out the fierce inner emotions of the characters. It is the middle of the night, in a university lecture room. Two students, Noguchi and Fuyu, who turned up late, suddenly announce to the professor, Hirai, “Yesterday we decided to get married.” Hirai is shocked because he has been having an affair with Fuyu for a long time. Then Satonaka, a director, comes to visit Hirai, who is a scriptwriter for radio and TV. In the frozen nighttime hours, the tangled relationship gradually turns menacing…

First staged: 2001
Acts/scenes: 1 act, 1 scene
Cast: 4 (2 male, 2 female)
First staged by: Hirosaki Gekijo
[Translation] English: Half a Century of Japanese Theater I, published by Kinokuniya and available from Hirosaki Gekijo