Since its establishment in 2010 by just two actors, Onsen Dragon has been a highly-regarded theater group both in Japan and abroad. Playwright Keita Shirai debuted, in effect, in 2011 with his work entitled birth. Through the years since then and as he created his recent play, Jitsuroku Rengo Sekigun: Asama Sanso e no Michi, he has worked at a furious rate with no signs of slowing down. This is a theater group that consists of solid actors, including Atsushi Sakamoto, Ryuichi Tsukuba, and Ken Iwainofu.
The company recently welcomed a new member, Yu Harada. A young playwright with a promising future, Harada won the 18th Japan Playwrights Association New Playwright Prize in 2011 with his work, Miageru Sakana to Me wa Auka? In 2017, the group performed his latest play, Koufuku na Doubutsu (directed by Keita Shirai).
The play is about certain sisters who watch as people evacuate to the town where they live, and the growing number of evacuees gradually transforms the town. From this setting, which evokes images of our current refugee-filled societies, unexpected strings of events unfold.
The company was joined by a wide range of guest actresses. The main female role was played by Yuki Fujii of theater company Karagumi. Others included Naoko Shimizu, a Haiyū-za member who makes regular appearances in Onsen Dragon plays; Masumi Tsuda of Seinen-za who has performed in numerous well-known plays; and Yasuko Higuchi of theater group Mumei-juku. This intense human drama was unveiled at SPACE Zatsuyū, which has grown to become one of Shinjuku’s most intriguing small theaters.
Onsen Dragon: (from left to right) Yu Harada, Keita Shirai, Atsushi Sakamoto, Ryuichi Tsukuba, Ken Iwainofu.