ABOUT THE PLAY
"Educating Mad Persons" is the only puppet play written by renowned playwright, poet, stage and film director Shuji Terayama. This 1962 play, one of the best among Terayama's creations, tells the story of a family informed by their doctor that one of their members may be mad on account of a hereditary reason. After this diagnosis, everyone in the family starts acting exactly like everyone else, hiding his or her own physical handicap or mental complex, to avoid being identified as the mad person. The play suggests how modern social structures and labels oppress human individuality.
With this production, created almost 20 years after Terayama's death, we attempt to revive the playwright's spirit in the form of a modern comic opera. Using six puppets and six kuroko's (black-masked puppeteers), the production also features 15 original songs, live music with Japanese drums and cymbals, as well as modern dances rooted in the techniques of traditional Japanese Noh and Kabuki theatre. "Educating Mad Persons" offers a simple story rich with meanings that may be enjoyed and understood both by adults and children.
Terayama was born in Aomori, a rural area in the northern part of Japan, in 1935. He made his name as a poet while still a student at Waseda University, Tokyo. In 1967, however, he dropped out to establish an experimental theatre group called "Tenjo Sajiki" (The Top Floor Gallery). He went on to spearhead the avant-garde arts movement as both a playwright and stage-director. His controversial book Encouraging the Young to Leave Home attracted a number of young people to "Tenjo Sajiki" but was criticized by broader Japanese society. His primary stage creations are "Knock", "A Blind Man's Epistle", "A Record of Contagious Diseases" and "Servants' Lessons". His film creations include "Let's Throw Books Away and Come Out to Town" and "The Death in a Rural Country". He was also famous as a horseracing and boxing commentator. Shuji Terayama died May 5, 1983. In 1997 a Memorial Museum dedicated to him opened in Misawa City, his birthplace.
Show Ryuzanji is a stage director, actor, the artistic director of the theatre group "Ryuzanji Company", Vice-Chair of the Japan Stage Directors Association and Director of the Japan Theatre Companies Association. He was born in 1947 in Kumamoto, the southernmost of the Japanese main islands. He left the Economics Dept. of Aoyama University mid-term to join Jokyo Gekijo (Theatre of Circumstances), then moved to Waseda Shou-Gekijo (Waseda Little Theatre). After establishing his own theatre company Engekidan (The Theatre Troupe) in 1970, he has continually been at the forefront of the second generation of Japan's small theatre movement. In 1984, he started the production company, "Ryuzanji Company", to facilitate a horizontal affiliation among "small theatre activists". As a stage director, his credits include "Last Asia", "The Blue Beard's Castle", "The Terayama" and "The End of an Era, 2001". He has also appeared in a number of plays, films and TV dramas as a powerful character actor.