- Japanese Society for Theatre Research. Comparative Theatre Section
- 西洋比較演劇研究 (ISSN:13472720)
- vol.11, no.1, pp.30-42, 2011 (Released:2012-03-15)
This paper will propose to evaluate Good-bye (Sayonara), the “first android theatre piece” which premiered in 2010. Rather than focus on technological advances, however, I will focus on the piece as artwork that reflects the aesthetics of Hirata Oriza (1962-), a Japanese playwright and director who produced this work in collaboration with roboticist Ishiguro Hiroshi. While some denounce Good-bye as being no better than mechanical puppetry, it encapsulates Hirata's dramaturgical principle of oscillating between fakery and authenticity, which has characterized his plays since he began his professional career in the mid-1980s. One of his representative works, Citizens of Seoul (1989) and its sequels serve my purpose of demonstrating this characteristic. Featuring a dying young woman and her android attendant, Good-bye appears to be a cheap melodrama that provokes sentimentalism, but it maintains its precarious poise by regaining authenticity through the playwright's tactful device of having the android recite poems. The thematic tension between similarities and difference in the poems recapitulates Hirata's dramaturgical focus on the juxtaposition of genuineness with falsity.