Theater is “Half and Half”

Table of Contents

Norimizu Ameya has been challenging the possibilities of a new form of theater throughout his career. In 1978, at the age of seventeen, he joined Juro Kara’s Situation Theatre. In 1983, he founded his own troupe, Tokyo Grand Guignol, which disbanded after only two years. Subsequently, he shifted his forum of activity to contemporary art, distancing himself from theater. However, in 2007, more than two decades later, Ameya returned. After the 2011 earthquake in 2014, Blue Sheet, which he produced with high school students from Iwaki, won the Kishida Prize for Drama. The awarding of this prize to Blue Sheet, which was inextricably linked with the realities of the students who participated in its performance, was a momentous event that shook the concept of drama itself.
Ameya stated that all his activities, even those that do not look like theater, are, in fact, “theater.” What, then, is theater? For Ameya, all theater is the reality that someone in front of you is performing fiction, while also being a document of that process. For Ameya, the phenomenon that begins when the curtain rises and continues throughout the duration of the performance itself is theater. Ameya’s works rely heavily on the notion of participation. However, even if an actor is performing “oneself,” by virtue of the performative act, the actor plays the role of the “self.” In addition, the role played is always the “other” to the actor playing the role, and, as such, the actor can never become an actual participant. In this case, the “self” is both the self and not the self. Theater is also the act of the present “self” that is living, while embodying at least half of “the possibility that the self is not the self.” Ameya calls this “half and half,” which serves as the guiding principle of his activities.
Finally, the names of people and all man-made things are fictions of some type. This is the same for theatrical “conventions” shown on stage. Attentiveness to this fact is the foundation of Ameya’s activities, which attempt to change the shape of everyday lives by producing new fiction. The basis of Ameya’s theater is powerfully linked to fiction and imagination, that is, the essence of human life.