Prize-winning author Miri Yu revives theatrical unit in Fukushima

15 September 2018

"Seishun Gogatsuto" (literally meaning Adolescent May Party), a theatrical group owned by Akutagawa literary prize-winning author Miri Yu, performed for the first time in about a quarter-century at her home-cum-bookstore in the Odaka district of Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Sept. 14. The performance was staged at "LaMaMa ODAKA," a mini theater under construction in the compounds of the Full House bookstore.

On stage were six female students of a drama club of Futaba Future High School in the prefectural town of Hirono, among other players. They enthusiastically performed a play incorporating their own experiences in the Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant. The actors thus helped bond residents in disaster-affected regions still on their path toward reconstruction and those from other regions.

Satsuki Sekine, who played the role of "Satsuki," a peppy figure with an expressive face, finished her debut performance which the 17-year-old senior said made her so nervous that it was "one of the five most tense scenes of my life." She bowed deeply to the audience as she ended her first appearance amid long-lasting applause.

The drama, titled "Seibutsuga" (Still-life painting), is based on a novel Yu wrote when she was a 21 year old. It is a story about six members of a literature club. It depicts the effects of radioactive decontamination and evacuation that suddenly cast a shadow on daily life. Hailing from the town of Tomioka in the prefecture, Sekine had her home damaged by the massive quake-caused tsunami. The drama included scenes based on her experience in which the normally blue sea looked reddish brown at the time of the disaster, among other things.

Full-fledged rehearsals began late in July ahead of summer vacation. Two teams of players, comprising six boys and six girls each, took turns to perform. The female team held intensive rehearsals as all members could not always gather, with some going abroad on school activities.

Ahead of the real stage, Yu told the girls: "There is no mistake in a theatrical play. The time of the real performance is alive there." The actors performed in a manner conveying life and death in the aftermath of the quake and nuclear accident as well as a sense of loss resulting from memories and thoughts lost along with the passing of time. During a scene looking back over their experiences in the disaster, they had mixed feelings, with tears filling their eyes.

The female team has two performances left. "I would like to face up to my role, making good use of the rehearsals so far and respecting Yu-san's words," Sekine said.

(Photo) Female drama club members engage in a rehearsal right before putting on a real performance. Third from right is Satsuki Sekine.

(Translated by Kyodo News)