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Born: 1940
Function: stage director playwright actor
Company: Kara-gumi

Born in Tokyo, Kara graduated in the Drama and Theater Arts from Meiji University and started the Jokyo Gekijo theater company in 1963. Since his first Red Tent production in Hanazono Shrine in Shinjuku in 1967, performances in tents have remained at the heart of his energetic activities. In 1969 he won the Kishida Drama Award for Shojo kamen (The Virgin's Mask), and in 1983 he won the Akutagawa Prize for his novel Sagawa-kun kara no tegami (Letter from Sagawa) based on a real-life cannibalistic murder in Paris. He was at the forefront of the underground theater movement, directing plays featuring monologues replete with lyrical romanticism and performed by actors with superb physiques. In 1988, he disbanded Jokyo Gekijo and formed Kara-gumi. As a professor at Yokohama National University, he also started the Kara-zemi troupe with his students in 2000. In 2003, his play Doro ningyo (The Muddy Merman), which depicts the chance encounter of a mermaid-like woman and a youth driven away by the Isahaya Bay reclamation project, won the Kinokuniya Theater Award, the Tsuruya Nanboku Drama Award, The Yomiuri Literature Prize, and the Yomiuri Theater Award for Best Director. In 2006 he was further awarded the Yomiuri Theater Award's Honors Prize and Meiji University's Special Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Photo: Cofuku Gekijo Production
Shojo kamen (The Virginfs Mask)
The setting is a basement café called The Body run by Kasugano Michiyo, a former top star who played male roles in the all-female Takarazuka Review. When Kai, a young girl who adores both the Takarazuka and Kasugano, visits the café, the cogwheels that had stopped are set in motion once again as the appearance of her world begins to change. In a tragedy of a male actor who has lost a womanfs body, she once again in her imagination meets her former love Captain Amakasu. In this expanding limitless poetic space, will Kai realize her dream?

First staged: 1969
Cast: 14 (6 male, 8 female)
First staged by: Waseda Shogekijo

Photo: Shuto Mikiko
Gyoshonin Nemo (Nemo the Street Vendor)
This play is set on Ikitsuki Island in Nagasaki, to where the clandestine Christians historically fled from persecution. The protagonist is Nemo, a salesman in a men’s wear shop whose favorite book is Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. When the shop is bought out, Nemo is reduced to an itinerant peddler with 75 pairs of trousers he receives in lieu of severance payment. He ends up in an alley where he meets up again with Mishin, a seamstress who wants to atone for a friend’s error. She prevents the trousers from being recovered by the shop’s new owners and enlists the help of Nemo’s former colleagues, the vaudevillian and energetic workers from the publicity department, to set in motion Nemo’s “Brain Shatterer” Nautilus submarine to withstand the financial maelstrom.

First staged: 2007
Cast: 16 (10 male, 6 female)
First staged by: Kara-gumi