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Friday, June 22, 2012

Play details the story of Sony's founders

Special to The Japan Times

Why a Berlin-based multimedia performing-arts group named Post Theatre Company created a work about Japan's most iconic postwar success story, Sony? And why is it only now that "Heavenly Bento" is reaching Japan — eight years after its premiere at the Bonn Biennale?

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Maybe producers here were reluctant to give publicity to a work about Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka, whose global triumphs with transistor radios and the Walkman were the fruits of a company that prized merit rather than the typical bureaucratic conformity of Japanese life.

Largely based on a 1999 book by John Nathan titled "Sony: The Private Life," this work takes the form of actors sitting around a white table, with the audience in turn sitting around them, each with a small bento (lunch-box meal) in front of them. As the audience eats, the characters (who have died and are in heaven) recall their shared vision from the early days of postwar Japan when the country looked upward and forward — not down at its navel.

This staging is also a deeply moving story of the phenomenal characters. What has happened to Japan since then, you may well wonder.

"Heavenly Bento" (in English with Japanese subtitles) runs July 4-8 at Aoyama Round Theatre in Shibuya, Tokyo. For more information, call (03) 3352-1616 or visit www.j-clip.co.jp.

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