The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

Home > Research > Waseda research zone - latest news on project research


Waseda Research Zone - Latest News on Project Research -

International Institute for Education and Research in Theatre and Film Arts (Theatre Museum)

Museum director and institute leader, Professor Mikio Takemoto (center) with the young Global COE researchers in front of the Waseda University Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum

The Waseda Theatre Museum is widely known by its common name "Enpaku" throughout the entertainment and theater worlds. It was established in 1928 to commemorate Shoyo Tsubouchi's translation of "The Complete Works of Shakespeare" and Shoyo's 70th birthday. It has collected important film and theater materials from Japan and abroad, and these materials number in the hundreds of thousands. Through 80 years of history, it has become a Theatre Museum which contributed to researchers in various fields including, naturally, film and theater, as well as literature, history, clothing, and architecture. With the coming of the 21st century, it has planned new developments for the expansion of its role as an international center of excellence.

In 2002, it was selected for the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology's "21st Century COE (Center of Excellence) Programme" that provides special assistance for the founding of world-class centers of excellence, and it has brought forth research achievements that have gained worldwide attention. Since 2007, following the 21st Century COE, it was also selected for the "Global COE Programme" and has been developing new programs based on two new innovations, (1) focusing on the achievements of young researchers and (2) combining theater research with film research. The stage of the Theatre Museum has been showing further expansion towards being a place where young researchers working on theater research come together and learn from one another.

The Case of Lena Smith, Sando... The Discovery of Phantom Materials

Mikio Takemoto, who works as the Global COE institute leader and is the director of the Theatre Museum, says, "The former Theatre Museum was not the kind of place that could be easily used by people who were not scholars. I think it was extremely difficult for people to go to it."

However since 1990 amidst the wave of the era when the active publication of information was demanded of universities, the Theatre Museum also planned the quick publication of this information by putting its collection into a database, making them available on the internet, and other methods. These changes inevitably became a chance for the rethinking of how education and research should be done at the Theatre Museum. The formation of a network that mutually connects the researchers who access the museum and the promotion of the use of its archives in a way that intimately connects research and education activities came to be thought of as the new role the Theatre Museum should pursue.

What came about there was the program to support the "creation of international research institutes," namely, the 21st Century COE. An ambitious education and research plan called the "Development of Research and Study Methodologies in Theatre" was put together, and it brought together 25 professors with a relationship to theater research from all schools with the Theatre Museum leading it. Amidst tough competition with other candidate institutes, it won the selection.

"With everyone brought together in one building again, I thought, wow, there are this many of us. Even though we just say theater research, the number of research fields and approaches are varied. The research spans a wide-range, from people who study plays with a literary approach and people who study the history of noh theater and kabuki to people who study how theater should be promoted in cultural policies. (Professor Takemoto)

Director Josef Von Sternberg's phantom production, The Case of Lena Smith

The large research funds of the 21st Century COE were given to this research organization with its diverse strengths, and research surveys were developed on an unprecedented scale. This resulted in the creation of many research achievements that brought world-wide attention. "Film history researcher Professor Hiroshi Komatsu found a portion of the film The Case of Lena Smith directed by Josef Von Sternberg and caused a worldwide sensation. Professor Minako Okamuro is well-known for her research on Samuel Becket, the Irish playwright, and she held an international symposium commemorating his 100th birthday. Amidst the Beckett symposiums held through the world, it was a top-level symposium in both scale and content." (Professor Takemoto)

The traced copy of Sando, an important document in Zeami Research

The previously mentioned Professor Takemoto also discovered a traced copy of the Matsunoya collection Sando that is considered to be one of the most important documents in the theory of Zeami Noh theater and whose original was burned during the Great Tokyo Earthquake. This discovery completely changed the study of noh theater theory.

In addition to great research achievements, the full-time office staff have exhibited their tact and established the museums position as an institute for international theater research exchange by holding all kinds of events including more than 150 seminars per year, the performance of plays, and international conferences. These achievements have been highly praised by internal and external related parties, and of all of the humanities 21st Century COEs, it was also the only institute to receive an A ranking in both the mid-term and final assessments of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

Furthermore since 2007 as a center for the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology's "Global COE Programme," it has also developed, atop its international base of theater research formed over five years, a new effort called the "creation of an international COE for theater and film" that places importance on the training of young researchers. It has invited a wide-range of young researchers from inside and outside of the school and appointed them as Global COE visiting research associates and researchers.

Outline of the Global COE Center

Continuing development of the Institute

Stimulating Young Researchers

The number of events held which bring together inside and outside theater and film researchers exceeds 150 per year. (The photograph is of the "'Tokyo/Olympic' Theater Creation Process" seminar sponsored by the research on the culture and environment of the arts course)

In order to find out how the young researchers truly feel about this stimulating research environment, we asked research associates their opinions.

First of all, everyone recognizes the significance of being able to use the enormous amount of materials at the Theatre Museum for research. For Misa Umetada, who is studying the works of Kabuki theater people Mokuami Kawatate, if the Theatre Museum hadn't existed, her research would have run into problems. "The kabuki scripts themselves do not exist anymore, but there are many books on them. In addition, as the founder Mr. Shoyo Tsubouchi was acquainted with Mokuami and the second director of the museum Mr. Shigetoshi Kawatate was the grandson of Mokuami, documents on Mokuami are especially complete.

Michiko Usui, who studied American cinema at Kyoto University, feels an attraction high in potential from a film research viewpoint, saying, "Even in the Theatre Museum, there are still many film materials that haven't been dug up. There are also films that have Kabuki actors appearing in them, and those have not been put under the light in the context of film research."

The Global COE institute was aiming for the goal of being a placed for young researchers to learn from one another. (The picture is of the doctoral thesis results reporting session.)

Secondly, the formation of a network between film and theater researchers is important. Yoko Ueda, who is in the middle of writing her Ph.D. dissertation on playwrights in Russia says, "Researchers of Western theater often put themselves in their majors such as Russian literature or German literature and, while I'm somehow ashamed of it, work alone through trail and error, but here all at once a wide world opens up, and there are many people in your research area, and they give you advice and their opinions at a high level. This has already been extremely stimulating for me."

Takafumi Moridaira, who is working on his dissertation for his doctoral course at the University of Tokyo, is studying Chinese theater which is subdued even for theater research and in that is focusing on Shanghai comedies which have received even less attention. "The absolute number of researchers is small, and the Chinese theater and Eastern theater researchers and students who are scattered throughout the country have come to gather here as a base. Chinese and other Asian theater researchers have also come to see this place as a point of contact for the research of Japan."

Thirdly, there is an assessment of an original course only available here. Kyoko Kawashima, who is studying the history of ballet in Japan, says, "There is only one place, only here, that you can study dance in Japan as a major. Additionally, there is unexpected breadth in the research here. For example, a professor offered an important ballet films that he discovered in his own research.

Yukiko Nagashima, who is taking the research on the culture and environment of the arts course, is studying cultural policy in the cities and municipalities of France. She says, "In France, theater peoples have taken a large role in the formation of cultural policies, and for thinking about how it is in Japan, I think the biggest advantage is just to be able to research and put myself in the network of theater peoples. There are many things here that cannot be seen in the separate majors of politics, economics, and the arts."

Theater that Maintains the Richness of the Heart

A target shared by the two COE programs is the establishment of theatre studies in Japan. In the West, theater is one of the chief elements of culture, and the study of theater is a field of scholarship equal to literature. However in Japan, even though the history of theater research is long, the understanding of theater in society is low.

"Many countries carry out projects such as the training of actors and the support of theaters as national policy, but among the developed nations, Japan is the only one without a national actor training organization, and policies to aid theater are insufficient. In this regard, Japan is a completely undeveloped country." Professor Takemoto is pointing out the weakness of the attitude towards theater in Japan in both scholarship and politics. "Theater in Japan has traditions since the time of Zeami, and a variety and modernism competitive with the West. If the lack of an attitude to maintain the citizens of Japan's interest in the culture of theater continues, it seems that the Japanese will lose their culture and that this will also lead the loss of the richness of their hearts."

Through the efforts of the Theatre Museum, Japanese theater research and theater culture have come to be focused on even abroad, and the number of foreign exchange students is also increasing. Recently when the President of China Hu Jintao visited Japan, he also commented on the existence of the Theatre Museum. As Professor Takemoto says, "I feel we have already achieved the 70-80% of the first goal," the efforts to establish drama school have also contributed greatly to Japanese cultural promotion and international exchange.

World theater and film research institute cooperative network

International Institute for Education and Research in Theatre and Film Arts - Reference Links

Waseda University, Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum

Waseda University, Theatre Museum, Global COE Programme, "International Institute for Education and Research in Theatre and Film Arts"

Waseda University, Theatre Museum, Institute for Theatre Research, 21st Century COE Programme "Development of Research and Study Methodologies in Theatre"

WASEDAWASEDA UNVERSITY Research Promotion Division  http://www.waseda.jp/rps/en/irp/index.html