Opening performance of Dramakan Theater on May 7
Oriza Hirata’s “The Transformation”
Waseda University’s Dramakan Theater located on Nanmon street held its grand opening on April 30 following a series of pre-opening performances by Waseda theater troupes. The opening performance of Oriza Hirata’s Android-Human Theater’s “The Transformation” was held from May 7-10. The theater which is gradually integrating into the city has been met with great anticipation from theatergoers and received cheers of support from students and others who use its facilities.
On April 23, Oriza Hirata and President Kamata hosted a discussion centered on the theme of spreading theatrical culture through the Dramakan Theater. Over 500 students attended the discussion between the unusual gathering of Hirata, active at the forefront of theater, and President Kamata, who was active in theatrical clubs as a student.
President Kamata who enrolled at Waseda in 1966 reflected on his time in the “Fukui Jiyu butai” theatrical troupe which he joined in his second year. He was responsible for lighting and shared stories of failure where the lights’ warmth caused him to doze off, resulting in a blackout. “Waseda is known as a hub for student theater and I would like us to become the foundation for energizing small theatrical productions in Japan. I hope Waseda will be the starting point for Shinjuku and all of Tokyo to become a place for Broadway-quality productions,” said President Kamata, expressing his dreams for the new Dramakan Theater.
Hirata commented on the state of Japanese universities saying “Japanese universities have places for training intellect and the body, but none for the spirit such as theaters and art museums. For universities in the United States, theaters and art museums are a given. These facilities are necessary for a university to become global.” Regarding Dramakan Theater, Hirata commented “Waseda theater clubs have a history of developing into professional troupes. Although Waseda has a theater museum and is conducting research, the absence of a “practical skill” makes its purpose unclear. I believe there will be many discussions about the theater’s purpose and who it serves in the next two to three years.”
On April 29, a panel discussion was held with representatives from theatrical troupes participating in the pre-opening performances leading up to the theater’s opening. The panel held solo performances from current students, a comedy act from recent graduates, discussed their impressions of the new theater, and shared stories from the previous Waseda Theater.
The opening production, Hirata’s Android-Human Theater’s “The Metamorphosis,” is a theatrical adaptation of Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” and a collaboration between Hirata’s Seinendan theater company and the Osaka University Robot Theater Project. Android “Repliee S1” starred alongside French actors from film and theater and presented the absurdist world of Kafka to its audience.