What was the war about, anyway? In the war crimes tribunal, just what or who was on trial?
Following months of hard work and preparation, the NNTT will present the Tokyo Trials Trilogy in the second half of Uyama Hitoshi's final season as artistic director.
For several years, the Tokyo Trials Trilogy has been something of a life's work for Inoue Hisashi; Part 1, Yume no Sakeme, was produced in 2001 as part of our series "The Age and Memory". This was followed by Yume no Namida and Yume no Kasabuta in 2003 and 2006. The three works explore the lives of ordinary people of the time, in a renewed attempt to get at the truths of the Tokyo trial and the war. The "Dream Series" was staged over a period of nearly five years starting in 2001. Now, in a project sure to attract much attention, the entire series will be staged in consecutive productions, over a period of three months starting in spring 2010.
The "music play" form, featuring live musicians, has become a trademark of Inoue's recent work. In fact, Yume no Sakeme was the first such play. This is a series that has spawned many memorable songs by Uno Seiichirō and Inoue Hisashi, while posing tough questions that all Japanese must inevitably consider. For the upcoming productions, some first-time performers will be joined by great well-known actors including Tsuji Kazunaga, Kiba Katsumi and Doi Yuko. The Tokyo trials will be presented in a way that is entertaining and humorous, with the power also to elicit sadness and anger.
A funny yet frightening event occurred in June and July 1946 to Tomekichi Tanaka (played by Takuzo Kadono). Known by the stage name Tensei, he is the leader of a group of picture storytellers who live in Nezu, a neighborhood of Tokyo that miraculously survived the wartime bombing. Tensei has long worked in the Japanese performing tradition of "talking men," first as a storyteller, then as a narrator at movie theatres, and now as a performer who tells stories that accompany pictures that he displays on the streets. But suddenly he is ordered by the occupation forces' International Prosecution Section to appear as a witness for the prosecution in the Tokyo war crimes trial. Shaking with fear, Tensei gives a deposition to Midori Kawaguchi (Kazuyo Mita), who works for the civilian prosecutors' office.
Tensei is rehearsed for his court appearance by his family and friends, including his father-in-law, the story illustrator Seifu (Hiroshi Inuzuka); his daughter Michiko (Miki Fujitani), who has just graduated from the First Tokyo Girls' High School; his sister Kimiko (Mami Kumagai), who was once a popular geisha in the Yanagibashi night life area; Taeko (Midoriko Kimura), a former coworker of Kimiko's in Yanagibashi who, after working successfully in Shanghai, returned to Japan just barely alive; Takashi Kawamoto (Hiroo Otaka), an unemployed projectionist who used to work at a now burned-out movie theatre nearby; Saburo Sekiya (Katsumi Takahashi), a repatriated soldier who loves picture stories; and a mysterious blackmarketeer named Kokichi Narita (Keisuke Ishida). For their rehearsal script, they use the official guidelines for witnesses before the war crimes tribunal. As their enthusiasm grows, Tensei and the others put together a "home court" to try war crimes on behalf of the people.
Tensei's day in court arrives. He manages to testify before Tojo and the others without making any serious mistakes, but in the process he discovers that the trial itself is fixed...