Yume no shiro

Castle of Dreams

Beursschouwburg

24, 25, 26, 27/05 – 20:30
28/05 – 18:00
1h 10min

With his extremely realistic theatre, where crude observation of behaviour betrays profound sensibility, Daisuke Miura has become one of the leading Japanese directors of his generation yet is still relatively unknown in Europe. The arrival in Brussels of Yume no shiro (Castle of Dreams), a staggeringly radical show without words, is therefore something of an event. By way of a castle of dreams, the spectator is invited to observe from the outside, like a voyeur, a tiny Tokyo flat with eight young adults crammed into it. They watch television, play video games, eat instant noodles, and above all have sex over and over again with the first bodies available. It is an almost animalistic community whose actions seem to say nothing other than that there is a pressing need for the immediate satisfaction of basic needs… A long tableau vivant, Yume no shiro is the uncompromising portrait of a type of Japanese youth living on borrowed time in an affluent society that has seen better days. The show is like an ethological study that paradoxically reveals a poignant humanity.

Playwright/director
Daisuke Miura

Cast
Ryotaro Yonemura, Yusuke Furusawa, Kotaro Inoue, Hideaki Washio, Kento Ogura, Runa Endo, Megumi Nitta, Yoshiko Miyajima

Stage manager
Akiyoshi Tsutsui

Light
Takashi Ito

Lighting operator
Shoko Mishima

Sound
Yoshihiro Nakamura

Set
Toshie Tanaka

Movie
Norimichi Tomita

Props
Michiyo Ohashi

Presentation
Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Beursschouwburg

Production
potudo-ru (Tokyo)

Supported by
The Saison Foundation, Japan Foundation

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Daisuke Miura, sex and void
Interview with Daisuke Miura

What kind of relationship do you have with literature?
I consider myself to be fairly removed from the world of literature. I did Yume no shiro (Castle of Dreams) with the intention of eliminating literature completely. I don’t think using words is essential in theatre. It’s the movements and gestures in Yume no shiro that convey what I want to express about mankind. I don’t want audiences to see our play as a work of art. Theatre shouldn’t be based on high culture like literature, but on more vulgar elements that allow man’s weakness and stupidity to be shown.

Do you write plays directly on stage?
No, I write beforehand. As far as Yume no shiro is concerned, everything was written down beforehand, even if they were only stage directions.

What is the actors’ role?
Their role is to respond to what the director expects. I expect them to react differently from how I’d planned, for them to move out of my control and appropriate the direction by going beyond it.

How do you choose them?
I choose people who don’t want to be centre stage. I want to avoid people who are seeking to flourish on stage, people with that kind of ego. I choose natural people.

Are they professional actors?
Most of them are.

Do you know the world you’re depicting from the inside or the outside?
Both. There are elements I’ve experienced, others I haven’t.

Are you looking for precision in how gestures and emotions are transcribed?
My concern for precision only involves gestures and movement on stage. I don’t want to go into social considerations or describe precise emotions; it’s up to the audience to come up with these.

You don’t have a moral vision?
No.

Are you just looking to describe?
Yes.

How is this different from documenting something?
All the same, it’s fiction. Yume no shiro with its weight of reality gives the impression of being a documentary, but it has all the ulterior motives of direction that make it fiction. I saw Elephant by Gus Van Sant when I was staging the play. Perhaps he inspired me. Perhaps there are points in common between our strategies that end up giving the impression that it’s a documentary.

Are you looking for different intensities in the dramaturgy?
I’m not looking to introduce dramatic effects. Of course there are moments that are slightly more accentuated, but I try to limit these as much as possible. More than anything, I avoid emphasising a scene and giving it a particular meaning. I try to smooth out the dramaturgy as much as possible and leave a margin of imagination to the audience.

But there is a kind of suspense when a girl starts sobbing at night and a boy puts on the light, for example.
Yes, but nothing happens after he’s switched on the light. I’m avoiding catharsis in this play. The wire mesh on the balcony alludes to an animal cage. You put the man inside and watch from the outside, like in the zoo. In this cage, I’m describing people who are only fulfilling their three basic needs [Translator’s note: Daisuke Miura uses the term yoku which means need, wish and desire]: sex, food and sleep. They do not communicate with other people. They content themselves with satisfying their needs. Man in general rises above this stage by communicating and acquiring logic and reason, but these ones here are remaining in this primitive state by refusing to communicate. I called the play Yume no shiro (Castle of Dreams) to make you think that perhaps people who refuse to communicate are happier than we are.

Do they know happiness?
Sex brings some satisfaction, but no sharing, no love.

Is there an idea of salvation?
The movement when the man switches on the light, when it seems he’s going to try to communicate with the girl but in the end doesn’t, was a sign of possible salvation for me.

Void, such an important notion in traditional Japan, is omnipresent.
People in Tokyo live with a feeling of void today. I’m magnifying this feeling of void on stage.

This blend of precision in description and despair can also be found in the literary tradition – I’m thinking here of Dazai whose work No Longer Human* you’ve already adapted.
I transposed No Longer Human into a contemporary situation. Dazai’s despair lay at the heart of in-depth reflection, whereas there’s no depth to the feeling of void the Japanese have today. It’s not caused by their torments, it’s abstract, it impregnates the atmosphere.

Nothing matters?
There’s no hope for the future anymore. Sure, the crisis has consequences, but they don’t want for anything and you sense an abstract void. Perhaps this is the atmosphere that’s palpable in the play. A sense of heaviness, of weight, preventing you from projecting yourself into the future.

Death stalked Dazai. Where is death in your work?
As regards Yume no shiro, continuing to live is more painful than dying. Despair is more glaring when we can’t even manage to take the decision to die and continue to live with the sense of void instead. Dazai attempted suicide several times and the fact of attempting to die requires a lot of energy. The young people in this play don’t even have the intention or energy to end their lives. They continue to live with this feeling of a very abstract void, as if their bodies feel weight for no reason.

Why out of all your plays have you chosen to present Yume no shiro abroad?
I’m curious to find out if this feeling of void young Japanese people have can be shared by other cultures.

Is doing theatre a way of emerging from the void?
No. The sense of void never disappears, even when I’m creating plays for theatre. It’s not my intention to escape this feeling of void.

*No Longer Human (Ningen Shikkaku) by Dazai Osamu, New Directions

Interview by Jean-Louis Perrier, translated by Aya Soejima
Excerpt from the article Sex and Void published in Mouvement no.57 (Oct-Dec 2010)
© Les éditions du Mouvement

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Daisuke Miura was born in Hokkaido in 1975. He is a playwright and director of the theatre company potudo-ru, formed by members of the tenth class of the Waseda University Drama Club. In a break with the extremely dramatic plays of the unit’s early years, Miura changed to a style that avoided drama as much as possible in favour of a semi-documentary style that sought a higher level of reality. That style has further progressed to the current one that skilfully works a documentary touch into drama to achieve a style that creates ‘fiction with reality’. Miura’s play Ai no Uzu (Love’s Whirlpool) won the 50th Kishida Drama Award (2005), after premiering in 2005 as potudo-ru’s 13th production. In 2010, Daisuke Miura presented Yume no shiro at Theater der Welt in Essen.

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