|Deguchi Norio in all of his splendor|
Earlier in Deguchi’s career, he desired simplicity in his adaptations and rejected intricate costume design and embellished background. More in favor of a “powerful emphasis on language and actor presence,” Deguchi tapped into pseudo-Nationalistic notions of Japanese acting ability (1). This simple style can be seen in Deguchi’s JeanJean period, where he directed many of Shakespeare’s plays (in which all the characters wore jeans). Much of Deguchi’s career centers on appealing to younger audiences. He endeavored to give them a culture to identify with in a world dominated by western ideology.
But as a man of experimentation and innovation, Deguchi Norio gradually moved away from his simplistic stagings of Shakespeare's plays. In 1994, Deguchi staged three different adaptations of A Midsummer Night’s Dream; each performance uniquely represented a playful approach to Shakespeare. In one adaptation, the actors wore masks to conceal their identity adding to the mystery and intrigue of the play. In another performance, Oberon and Titania (Shakespeare's king and queen of the fairies) were portrayed as owners of a bar, and the fairies were made into bar girls clad in short black dresses. Deguchi's bar-scene incited feelings of promiscuity and sexuality, which appeared almost dream-like to the audience; imperative in a play centered on dreams as they are “past the wit of man” (IV.I 1762).
|The bar scene with Titania and Oberon on the right |
and the bar-girls/fairies on the left
The works of William Shakespeare carry with them age-old conversations of gender, race, identity, violence, marriage, etc. that directors like Deguchi Norio engage in when appealing to contemporary Japanese audiences. Shakespeare, highly regarded as a theatrical playground for experimentation and re-imagination, will continue to play a crucial role in theater for years to come for anywhere-not just in Japan- that a young mind can appreciate the intricacy of Shakespeare’s work.
- Christopher LaSasso
1. Minami, Ryuta, Ian Carruthers, and John Gillies. Performing Shakespeare in Japan. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge UP, 2001. Print.