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Kojin Nishido’s Tokyo Theater Navigation
No.009
“Das letzte Feuer(The Final Fire)”
In “Kojin Nishido’s Tokyo Theater Navigation,” theater critic Nishido shares information on much-talked-about plays.

Established in 1937 and marking its 80th anniversary in 2017, Bungakuza is the oldest shingeki (literally "new drama") theatre company in Japan.
Separate from its mission of creating theater based on drama as literature, its Bungakuza atorie no kai performances provide a sort of salon studio for ventures into experimental theater. Armed with its tradition of reverence for words, Bungakuza takes on the latest German play, Dea Loher's Das letzte Feuer.
A soldier returning from a war zone witnesses a young boy get run over by a police car. Enter the young boy's family and the officers who were driving the car, and we embark on a conversation that touches on a number of hard truths. The beauty of this play, however, lies in the internal monologues, which can be described neither as stage direction, nor poetry. And this presents the question of how to have the actors express these words on stage.
It was with Heiner Müller that plays written in this type of prose became common among playwrights in Germany. Experimenting with language like this broadened the range of conventional theater, and from the 1980s contemporary theater confronted the question of how to stage plays written in this way.
In 2009, Das letzte Feuer was staged at the New National Theater as a "read aloud performance" (directed by Shintaro Mori), and was first performed on stage in Japan in 2011 by the HMP Theater Company in Osaka (directed by Tomonori Kasai).
The young director Miyuki Ikuta takes on Das letzte Feuer at a time when Loher plays have been enjoying a quiet surge in popularity.

Miyuki Ikuta
Das letzte Feuer in rehearsal at right

Left: Miyuki Ikuta
Right: Das letzte Feuer in rehearsal at right

  • Akiko Kurano
  • Yasumasa Oba
  • Noriko Kito

From left, Akiko Kurano, Yasumasa Oba, Noriko Kito

Kojin Nishido

Theater critic. Professor, Department of Art, School of Literature, Meiji Gakuin University. Born 1954 in Tokyo. Began working as a theater critic in 1978, with focus on underground and small-scale theater plays.

Kojin Nishido