About Tsukiji Little Theater

10 Aug 2018

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Tsukiji Little Theater was not just a theater but a theater company of the same name. a theater with a company. It is a usual case in Europe, but it was the first in Japan.
It was one-storied theater with 500 seats and the name incorporated the name of the place, built in Gothic Romanesque style modeled after German director Max Reinhardt's small theater, and went all grey both for interior and exterior. This style was taken because Yoshi Hijikata, who was an Earl and theater director and provided full construction cost for the theater, had been trained in Germany. Hijikata was just 26 years old when he built the theater.
Tsukiji Little Theater, which had the first performance in June 1924, announced that it would provide 20 days performances every month, and do only translation plays for the time being, then picked up plays all over the world one after another. In particular, as advocated "theater laboratory", they actively adopted avant-garde works such as expressionist plays for the theater, but because of that, they were unable to hold so many audiences, around 200 people came per performance. That's why they quickly fell into deficit operation, but Hijikata always paid for the expenses involved in theater including the actor's fee.
They started Japanese original plays two years after the opening of the theater and continued to bring up actors and staff on the other side of putting on the performance, so Tsukiji Little Theater turned out actors and staff to support Japanese contemporary drama called Shingeki. However, the conflicts broke out among the company in response to thought of socialism, and the company broke up when Kaoru Osanai, the mentor of Hijikata on performance, passed away. Hijikata began to take a way to the left theater but became difficult to live in the nobility so went abroad in 1933. After that, the theater was jointly managed by the Shingeki people and played a role as a theater for Shingeki. However, it burned down in Great Tokyo Air Raids in March 1945.
After the war, the restoration movement broke out, but it ended without fruitfulness.
(Yoshio Ozasa, theater critic)