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Friday, Nov. 10, 2006

REPORTING FOR DUTY

Politics at heart of two 'new' plays


Special to The Japan Times

American-born Australian and long-term Japan resident Roger Pulvers presents a double-bill of his plays in Japanese at Theater X in Tokyo's Sumida Ward from Nov. 15-18.

Kenjiro Otani
Kenjiro Otani will portray an American soldier in "Tomoko's Story" and a Chinese journalist in "The Reporters."

In addition to penning his weekly Counterpoint column in The Japan Times every Sunday, Pulvers is a university professor, a prolific author of fiction and a playwright and theater director well known both in Australia and Japan.

Next week, he presents his new Japanese translation of "The Reporters," first staged 25 years ago in English, followed by the world premiere of his new play in Japanese, "Tomoko's Story," performed with a Japanese cast including Kenjiro Otani and Kouko Furuda. Both plays will be subtitled in English (on Nov. 18 only) before the production tours Australia.

"The Reporters" is a short and punchy satirical comedy (with a great twist) about two newspaper reporters from ideologically opposed countries, the United States and China. (The original protagonists were from Australia and the Soviet Union.)

"Tomoko's Story," meanwhile, is a beautiful and sorrowful human drama set in Kyoto in the autumn of 1966, at a time when the author was living there.

Examining the short-lived relationships between a coffee-shop owner, who fought against the U.S. Army during World War II, a young female student and an American soldier on leave from Vietnam, the story subtly exposes each of the characters' hidden feelings en route to its surprising and shocking climax. As Pulvers explained, he set this play in the 1960s in Japan as a way of tackling the subject of the Vietnam War.

"I left America because I did not want to be a citizen of a country that was using overwhelming force against a rather poor country," he said. "But in the '60s, Japan was amazing. There was genuine protest against the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. That was because, like one of the characters in this play, Americans go to countries around the world and preach to them, telling them to adopt American values and culture.

"Recognizing that fact, and to stop the thinking that one's own nation is holier than others, is the first step to breaking the cycle of misery."

"Tomoko's Story" and "The Reporters" run from Nov.15-18 at the Theater X (pronounced Cai), a 3-minute walk from Ryogoku Station on the JR Sobu Line. For more details, call the theater at (03) 5624-1181 or visit www.theaterx.jp



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