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Beginning with Genron 10, theater director Akira Takayama will serialize his theory of theater, borrowing the form of the travelogue. Takayama’s theater works are not onstage theater performances. Rather, he specializes in participatory theater, based on his exhaustive research of the city that allows the audience to vicariously experience the results of his labors. Within this category is tour-type theater, in which participants experience the city by touring it, led by maps while listening to explanations, and school-type theater, where participants listen to radio lectures by immigrants, refugees, homeless people, and others in unexpected venues across the city.
Takayama’s masterpiece school-type theatrical work, McDonald’s Radio University, created an opportunity for the theater director to be invited to the Bauhaus centenary festival, “School FUNDAMENTAL.” The festival gathered alternative schools from around the world to consider the nature of the “school.”
Takayama expresses doubt over the education undertaken by workshop participants, in which violence was excluded and concealed. For Takayama, this recalls the Bertolt Brecht-influenced play he wrote 22 years earlier, The House of Education, Number 20. In this play, written after Takayama had wandered Europe and trained in theater, he points out how theater problematizes violence onstage, tames social problems, castrates the power of theater, and steals the diversity of the audience. Those concerns do not change, even in McDonald’s Radio University.
McDonald’s Radio University was inspired by Cedric Price’s Potteries Thinkbelt. It broadcasts live lectures by refugees acting as professors in McDonald’s restaurants along the evacuation routes of refugees. In this way, Takayama attempts to connect cities along routes of thought that cross national boundaries. McDonald’s, which takes in a diverse group of immigrants as both employees and customers, becomes a doubled performance space between fast food restaurant/university and customer/student. What form of performativity remains when theater stops being something to view and approaches the functions of a city? In order to pursue this question, the author’s journey continues.