Miyamoto Amon will direct a straight play for the first time at the NNTT. Miyamoto is artistic director of the Kanagawa Arts Theatre (KAAT), which opened in January 2011.
Salome was written in 1891, and was published in the original French in Paris in February 1893. An English version was published in London one year later, and the play has since been translated into many other languages. The play premiered in France at the Théâtre de l'Oeuvre in 1896. It was first staged in Japan by the Geijutsu-za theatre company in 1914, with actress Matsui Sumako in the title role. More recently, an adaptation was staged by the Ku Na'uka theatre company in 2009.
Richard Strauss composed an opera based on a German translation of the play. It premiered in 1905 and remains highly popular to this day. There have been several acclaimed productions in recent years.
Salome has been given glorious new life in its latest incarnation at the NNTT. This fantastic spoken drama presents the tale of a tragic love, between Queen Salome of Jerusalem and Jokanaan. The play features multiple protagonists, centered on a family of three: Salome, her stepfather King Herod the Great, and her mother Herodias.
This production is part of the 2010/2011 season's ongoing series, "Japan Meets – A Look at the Lineage of Contemporary Drama". The NNTT will recreate the world depicted in the original using a script written in modern Japanese language, from a new translation from the French by novelist Hirano Keiichiro.
(The New National Theatre Opera is scheduled to perform the opera Salome in October 2011.)
The action is set in Jerusalem at the palace of King Herod.
Salome is the daughter of Queen Herodias and stepdaughter of Herod, King of Judea. Herod has murdered his brother, Salome's father, and taken Herodias as his own wife. During a banquet, Salome goes out on the terrace to escape the lecherous gaze of King Herod. She hears an eerie voice coming from an underground cistern. It is the voice of the prophet Jokanaan, who has been imprisoned by Herod. Salome takes an interest and orders the captain of Herod's guard to release Jokanaan from the cistern. Jokanaan condemns the consanguineous marriage of Herodias. He also gives no heed to Salome's advances. Jokanaan returns to the cistern.
Herod and Herodias go out onto the terrace after Salome, where they hear the voice of Jokanaan coming from underground.
Herod orders Salome to dance for him. She finally agrees, but as a condition, she demands the head of Jokanaan.