The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Japanese Drama Database
Japanese Title: Asayake no Manhattan
English Title: Red Dawn over Manhattan
Author: SAITO, Ren
Author's Profile: Born in Pyongyang, Korea in 1940. Graduating from the Actors Theatre Training School, Saito founded On-Stage Theatre Company in 1966. Three years later, he became freelance and wrote plays for many different theatre groups: "Annie Pyle" for the Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre, "Song of Saigon" for the Parco Theatre and Oriental Theatre, "L'etranger" for Drama City and Art-Sophia; "Grey Christmas" for the People Arts Theatre; "Soaring Bird with a Red Heart" for the Actors Theatre; "Red Dawn over Manhattan" for the Chijinkai; "Moulin Rouge" for the Youth Theatre; "The Tale of the Riverbed" for the Yuki Puppet Theatre; "A Zoo without Elephants" for the Progress Theatre, etc. SAITO received the 1980 Kishida Drama Prize for "Jazz Musicians in Shanghai," produced by the On-Stage theatre company. His Cusco and "Twilight Vaudeville" have been produced by many theatre groups. Since 1983 SAITO has written many plays for the premier production celebrating the opening of new theatres. Included in this category are "The Festival of Ikaruga" for the opening of the Honda Theatre in 1983; Tokyo March for the opening of the Tokyo Metropolitan Arts Theatre in 1990; "Sea Lights" for the opening of the Yokohama Arena in 1995; Canary for the opening of the Tokyo International Forum in 1997 (This work won the Kikuta Kazuo Theatre Prize). He has nonfiction works such as "Annie Pyle," "Outlaws of Showa," "The Sons of Pinkerton," "Famous Stage Quotations of the Showa Era," and children's literature, such as "Porsche," "A Zoo without Elephants," "A Ticket to the Stars," and others.
First Performance:   1993
Performance time:  
Acts / Scenes: 2 acts, 6 scenes
Cast: 9 (5 men, 4 women)

This is a biographical play set in New York about the life of the painter ISHIGAKI Eitaro (1893-1958), his wife and writer ISHIGAKI Ayako (1903-96).

It also features the director SANO Seki (1905-66), known as "the father of Mexican theatre".
In the fiction of the play, painter INAGAKI Kojiro and his wife, Aiko, live in an apartment on the uppermost floor of a building in Lower Manhattan overlooking the Statue of Liberty. In Depression-era New York, Kojiro's paintings of the socially weak and oppressed do not sell, and the painter is trying to avoid his landlord, Chen, who demands the rent.

Kojiro, the son of Japanese immigrants who managed to survive in the new land, worked his way through school and moved to the East Coast, where he became a painter. Mitsuko, Aiko's elder sister, is married to a diplomat. Aiko came to the US with her sister's family when her brother-in-law was assigned to the Japanese embassy in Washington DC. There she met Kojiro. Mitsuko castigates Aiko for delivering speeches criticizing Japan's invasion of China.

Artistic director SAYAMA, a friend of Aiko's, drops by in New York on his way to artistic director Meyerhold's studio in Moscow. Observing the INAGAKIS' poverty, SAYAMA says in praise of socialism, "In the USSR, the people feed the artist who serves the people".

As part of the New Deal policy, Kojiro receives the job of painting murals on the walls of New York buildings on the theme of the emancipation of slaves. Kojiro does his work enthusiastically, but the project, coming under fire for giving a Japanese painter a job when Americans are unemployed, is terminated.
In 1940, SAYAMA suddenly appears at their apartment. His mentor Meyerhold has been arrested in Moscow as an enemy of the people, and he himself has been deported. He leaves for Mexico, saying that a country that turns art into a commercial product is better than a country that executes its artists.

The following year sees the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Japanese newspaper reporters and diplomats are sent home by ship, but the ISHIGAKI's decide to remain. Aiko finds employment at the Information Bureau from where she condemns war over shortwave broadcasting directed at Japan, while Kojiro, caught between his country of birth and the country he grew up in, falls into a state of paralysis.
After the war, Mitsuko and her husband return to Washington DC, at the height of the McCarthy red purge. Kojiro is interrogated by the authorities over his ties with the John Reed Club and is deported.

In 1950, as the curtain falls on a major period of political upheaval in the 20th century, the two celebrate their last New Year's Eve in the US.