By Tatsuhiro Morishige / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterPlaywright-director Takuya Yokoyama, who presides over Osaka-based theater unit iaku, is enjoying a busy period. This month, five of his plays will be staged in Tokyo, including a new work he has written for the long-established Haiyuza Theater Company. Furthermore, two of his plays will tour several cities from June.
Yokoyama, 41, left a theater company that he had previously belonged to and founded iaku in 2012 to stage his own plays.
As a playwright, he excels in plays with dialogue based on keen observations and a deep understanding of everyday life, while also making good use of humor in a natural-sounding dialect of the Kansai region.
“For example, there are times when you can give up a seat to an elderly person on a train and times when you cannot because you’ve missed the opportunity in a fleeting second or the person happens to be standing where you find it difficult to call them over,” Yokoyama said. “I try to build on the strange feeling of guilt in such an instance and turn it into a piece of work. Kudos to the people who can act in such a humane manner.”
From May 16 to 28, four plays he has staged in the past will be shown at Komaba Agora Theater in Meguro Ward, Tokyo, under the title “iaku Engeki Sakuhinshu” (A collection of plays by iaku). One to three plays will be presented each day.
The four plays are “Shukushuku to Unshin” (Sewing somberly), in which two brothers and a married couple pour their hearts out about life; “Hito no Ki mo Shiranaide” (You don’t know my feelings), in which three female office workers gather to discuss a plan for entertainment at a colleague’s wedding party; “Nashi no Tsubute no Nashi” (No reply pair), a two-woman play set in a bar; and “Atashira Hazakura” (We are cherry trees with leaves), in which a mother and her daughter who has a boyfriend discuss their future.
The setting is different from play to play, but the four works have one thing in common — an important fact cleverly hidden from the audience early on is revealed in the second half.
“I don’t put too much weight on a surprise ending,” Yokoyama said. “It just goes like that incidentally through the course of conversation. But I’m always aware of my desire to make good entertainment.”
From May 18 to June 3, his new play “Kubi no nai Kamakiri” (A headless mantis) will premiere at the Haiyuza company’s studio in Roppongi, Tokyo, directed by Takashi Manabe. The play’s thematic subjects are bone-marrow banks and leaving one’s body to science, with a group of people in a family confronted with their own takes on life.
The project came about thanks to an enthusiastic request by Naoko Shimizu, an actress with Haiyuza, who is a fan of Yokoyama’s plays and has often gone to his productions. In the new play, Shimizu will play the role of a homemaker, a key personality in the story.
“I always wanted to work with a company that specializes in shingeki modern theater. One of my dreams has come true,” Yokoyama said.
In June, July and September, iaku will tour five cities including Sapporo and Fukuoka with “Shukushuku to Unshin,” and three cities including Kanazawa and Tsuchiura, Ibaraki Prefecture, with “Hito no Ki mo Shiranaide.”
Eleven of his plays will be staged this year alone.
“It is my goal that my plays will be repeatedly revived and won’t be disposed of after only the first performances as much as possible. The ideal situation for me is to always see a play of mine staged somewhere throughout the year,” he said.
Visit www.iaku.jp for more information on upcoming performances. English subtitles will be available at the performances of “Hito no Ki mo Shiranaide” on July 28, 29 at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa.Speech