SOAS University of London

Japan Research Centre

National or Popular Theatre: Globalisation, Modernity, and a Discussion of Multifaceted Japanese National Theatre

IMG - 20170322 - Ayumi Fujioka
Professor Ayumi Fujioka (Sugiyama University)

Date: 22 March 2017Time: 5:05 PM

Finishes: 22 March 2017Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Khalili Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Seminar


In a global context, Japanese national theatre, along with Western national theatre, became controversial among European states when it sprung up in the late 19th century. Discussions of national theatre, ‘peoples’ theatre’, and ‘theatre for the nation’ were most prolific in the early 20th century and continued to take place until the Japanese National Theatre was established in 1966. Some important threads from Western theatre were introduced into Japanese modern theatre at the turn of the century such as the French dramatist, Romain Rolland’s influential concept of ‘peoples’ theatre’, the British modern pageant, and the modern theatre movement associated with national identity. At the same time as national theatre was being debated, iconic theatres of urban modernity were, by contrast, established in Marunouchi-Yurakucho, the heart of Tokyo of which the Imperial Theatre and the Tokyo Takarazuka Theatre were the most important examples. These theatres attracted large audiences with lively revues and magnificent spectacles and were part of a new era in which people started to benefit from theatre entertainment in the thriving economic centre of metropolitan Tokyo. However, an idea of national identity was explored in both theatres, which allows us to understand how extensive the discussion of national theatre is regarding the nature of audience, in other words, people. This paper explores how the development of popular theatre is related to the discussion of Japanese national theatre in the early 20th Century.

Speaker Biography

Ayumi Fujioka is a visiting scholar at SOAS, University of London (UK, 2016-2017) and an associate professor in Theatre Studies, School of Cross-Cultural Studies at Sugiyama University (Japan). Her research is centred on various aspects of the Edwardian Theatre. She currently conducts research on the intercultural relationship between British and Japanese theatre in the early 20th Century. She has edited a book: ‘Dan Leno and Pantomime-Wonderland’, ‘An Imagined National Theatre: the Royal Court Theatre’, Theatres and Theatre-World in London: A History of Modern British Theatre, Asahi Press (2015), and co-edited books: ‘The Birth of Repertory Theatre Movement’, Critical Aspects of Theatre Studies vol.2, Sankei-sha (2015), ‘The Emergence of an Actress Who Tells the Story of Herself; Elizabeth Robins in British Modern Theatre’, Critical Aspects of Theatre Studies vol.1, Sankei-sha (2011). Her research is aided by grants both from Sugiyama University and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

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