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Border incursion power of project and work
――"Ryusuke Hamaguchi's Retrospective" as a theatre experience

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

One is bound to be open to criticism for showing lack of judgment and writing about a movie in a theatre review column. But this time, I am going to do just that. The serial late show "Ryusuke Hamaguchi's Retrospective" played at the Auditorium Shibuya from July 28 to August 10. When I checked out the details on the official site, I took it upon myself to introduce it in a "theatre review" because I wanted to mention the one-time-only nature and obvious appeal possessed by this project that should rather be called theatrical.

With a greeting from the director immediately before the screening and a post-screening guest talk, and a live performance of the music actually used in the film etc., in addition to contriving to produce a sense of belonging in the audience, due to different works being screened on a rotational basis, it was easy for viewers with a large interest in Hamaguchi's works to attend again. Also, with active retweets from the official Twitter account, it fanned the repeaters' sense of ownership. Without going as far as calling out to each other, it brews forth a sense of being closer than a stranger but not quite an acquaintance, where you are quietly aware of "seeing that person the other day."

So, this unique "intimate" condition is mutually put into effect, and what changes the seats daily like a living thing is the border incursion power characteristic of Hamguchi's work. Regardless of the common relationships dealt with in the fictional plots such as love and friendship, the depiction of that "commonness" is far from being "common". The heartbreak caused between two close friends is put together well on the screen, like making a fuss over details. But then, it is not as simple as picking up a grain of rice with chopsticks, rather, the stickiness of that "rice grain" brings out the reality of the pain of having no place to run to in everyday life, striking the hearts of us on this side of the screen. After watching the film, the audience in the lighted theatre become aware that the people who were just on the other side of the screen will actually also be on this side, feeling awkward like not knowing where to put yourself.

Through the "reality" shown on the screen, the reality on this side of the screen is invaded, and the feeling of the border possibly disappearing is closer to that of coming across an unexpected incident on the street and becoming involved, rather than the usual "safety zone" of the movie theatre seats. In that (wide) sense, I felt it to be theatrical. That reminds me, the central theme of the epic "Shinmitsusa (Intimacies)" (4 1/2 hours), which was shown over four all night sessions, was also theatrical. On Twitter Timeline, on the streets after the screening of "Shinmitsusa" on a hot Shibuya morning, which usually brings about a sweltering day, there were many messages saying it felt difficult to describe affection, telling the story of the border incursion power of the work.

Hamaguchi is currently working on a joint production, ''Nami no oto (The Sound of Waves)'', with director Ko Sakai, a piece capturing "conversations" of people living on the Sanriku coast who were affected by the tsunami. They have set up base in Miyagi Prefecture to prepare for filming of the documentary on the reconstruction after the Great East Japan Earthquake. On the USTREAM program dia-log (where the work is being produced and archived on the Center for remembering 3.11 site, "Wasuren" for short), a medium for dialog to take place on this production, both directors, in regards to making it possible to capturing a "form" other than the usual "form" which can only be caught on camera, avoid contact on the majority of existing comments, and attempt to put into words the actual feelings expressed by each individual. The sincere "awkwardness" of the two directors always asking questions and not converging on a single answer while trying to involve themselves with the subject, the narrator, was also not "common". It is also there that I would like to give due deference in the form of calling it "theatrical."

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, Lumi竪re 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 Influence of Jean Giraudoux in Shuji Terayama – Radio Drama ‘Daireifuku’(in Theatre Essay Collection, Volume 54), Les sons sauvent les vies ; Souvenirs acoustiques de 4.48 psychose de Sarah Kane mis en sc竪ne de Norimizu Ameya, Théâtre/Public (197, 2010), and Fujita and Giraudoux--Surrounding Unknown《Chance Encounter》 (Comparative Literature Annual No.47).