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Dainana Gekijo The Seagull
~a faint hope kept in certainty~

Yukie Mase
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Chekhov saw the world as a plane and a sphere. Human points and lines of human relationships are basic in themselves, with the whole world in his works being constructed of a single element. The key to making the play lies in how things are "brought up" from the expansion of the world.

The central themes brought up in Dainana Gekijo's The Seagull (Theatre Tram, September 8-11, composition・production・artwork : Kohei Narumi) lies in the part where Nina delivers her line such as "both humans and animals," in the play within the play which Treplyov has Nina perform. The content of this one-person performance, where Treplyov's mother, Arkadina, ridicules it as "decadence" and distances herself from Nina, the performer in question, by saying she doesn't understand, is quite realistic when thinking that no matter how "kind" humans try to be, our time and the day we cease to exist on this planet called earth has been determined. That "reality" is silently embodied by the tree at the back of center stage. This curio, that is reminiscent of a tableau vivant, can be seen on the stage when the doors open. From the shadows it continues to look over, of course the casual movements of the four insanity-filled women who remind us of Nina, but also the modest "improvisations" of the women on stage, giving sideways glances to the audience when looking for seats with a good view. And then the story begins, when light is shone on that spot and snow-like objects begin to steadily fall, in the foreground, several sequences of The Seagull begin to move repeatedly in a frenzied rhythm. Whether it be a story of desperate young boy whose mother, or even lover, won't look at him, a story of a girl who can't move even one step closer to her fantasy of success, a story of a mother who, while loving her son, has trouble expressing that love, or a story of a writer who is imprisoned by his self-conscious belief that, "I can't beat Turgenev", the cries that ring out from the unproductive repetitive energy surrounding the individual stories, only disappear into the world of the silent, falling snow. In the end, Treplyov, in the same manner as in the story written by Chekhov, shoots himself with a pistol. But the sound of the pistol firing can't be heard in the theatre. However, that isn't because a bullet wasn't fired. The audience is watching Treplyov's suicide, and Nina's fall, from the world of the snow falling on the decaying tree. In this lonely world where humans, and animals, and starfish have vanished, the sound of the pistol is tens of thousands of light years away.

In the Japan of 2011, "the end" isn't the concept of a black hole, but to us, who looked at it, even for just a moment, as an entity, the frozen world of the decaying tree is past being a product of symbolism. But, it is because this sense of closure has already been asserted by Chekhov, who left this world over a century ago, that we watch it now with dim hope. Matthias Langhof, who directed Three Sisters, said "We are always walking behind Chekhov." Twenty years on today, we are walking slightly ahead of Chekhov, if we sometimes look back, he will show us a somewhat sad-looking smile. Kohei Narumi, by "capturing" the play within a play, succeeds in creating a three-dimensional space time expression with an unlimited number of intricate points and lines. While carefully picking out those many points and lines, and embracing a deep feeling of wanting to watch it one more time, the performance at the Theatre Tram closed on September 11. The dignified appearance of the performers was also superb.

Yukie Mase
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Graduated from School of Letters, Arts and Sciences II, Waseda University majoring in literary art. Started current position after completing her doctorate at the Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Waseda University and the Faculty of Literature, Lumière University Lyon 2. Majors in Western theatre texts with a focus on France and production. Wrote From Novels to Drama-Jean Giraudoux Changes in Narration(Waseda University Press), and major essays such as Fujita and Giraudoux--Surrounding Unknown《Chance Encounter》 (Comparative Literature Annual No.47).