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Tokyo Theatre Ensemble - Chim
- Luggage from you reaches you -

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

"This is your luggage".
"No, this is yours".
"Please don't send it back".
"Please don't send it again".

Inside a solitary delivery package placed center stage, is a single bundled dark colored luggage wrapped in cloth. A Japanese woman and a Korean man coldly lay the blame for the luggage each other. This is the opening scene of Chim (The Luggage) written by Jeong Bok-geun and directed by Youji Sakate (at Burehito no Shibaigoya from February 24 to March 4). Despite such an opening scene, owing to a powerful harmony among the enthusiastic performance by Japanese and Korean performers, the sound effect by Yoshihide Otomo and choreography by Mikuni Yanaihara that directly express physical sensations, and the unique equipment to pass between the two-way audience seats, chilling recriminations transform to humanely-oriented warmth. It was spectacular 90 minutes during which I followed the process of this transformation with bated breath.

The warp is the Ukishimamaru Incident happened on August 1945. The ship Ukishimamaru on which Korean laborers who were forced to work in Japan during the war and their families rode, while heading toward the Korean peninsula, sinks in Maizuru bay and many lives are lost. A sense of thirst to return home by the Korean laborers who were caught up in this incident, speculations by Japanese who heard the rumor of blowing up and sinking before it happened. Also, the fate of a couple torn apart by the ship as it sank into the sea. The woman whose one hand had been cut off and made to work as a comfort woman, carried the luggage of the man whom she promised marriage to and was brought to Japan. However, she met a very lonely end and the luggage was left behind. On the other hand, the woof is the ever continuing tug of war between the Japanese haunted by the departed spirits of those who appear from the remaining luggage and the Korean people who want to put their backs to an abominable past.

Outfits of Koreans who were happy about their return home are, like wrapped languages they hold under their arms, dusky and black due to mud and sweat. The ballottement of the sound of feet being stamped on the ground work together in a group dance, the importance of each of the bodies that had lived and the sense of warm friendship is conveyed. However, the effect of the black duskiness and importance of bodies shifts to tragedy in the scene where the ship sinks. Their bodies that little individuality was ripped away and piled up like torn old cloths, are equated with a single remaining luggage.

The inside of the luggage is not shown. Rather, the question the luggage emanates is how we view it. "This is your luggage" is certainly uttered as words of blame in the opening scene. However, in the last scene when the two actors utter the line, the audience, who witnessed purgatory thrown out by the luggage, become conscious that the line is directed to each individual audience. Here no blame can be felt. But rather, I interpreted this as being like someone was talking to me who carries my own luggage.

When it comes to the issue of where responsibilities lay, I continually come back to it being either one of apology or blame. If one daringly open their eyes, it may be that there is train of thought from another dimension, however, one is not able to find on their own the way in which to open their eyes to this. However, within the inefficient workings of a theatrical performance that cannot be executed by one person, nor which can be reproduced, is concealed a key for coming closer to an answer which one can not possibly produce on one's own. This was a profound play that made one recall such ideas.

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).