The Genealogy of chelfitsch(s)

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In this article, Shibukawa explores the theater of Oriza Hirata, Toshiki Okada, and Taichi Yamagata, who are representative figures in contemporary Japanese theater. The sociologist Masachi Ōsawa concluded that the link between community and body is relativized in consumer society. In the midst of that consumer society, Aum Shinrikyō, which instigated an indiscriminate terrorist attack in 1995, organized an exclusive community by providing its believers with a bodily image that enabled them to link to its founder directly.
Oriza Hirata’s 1990s’ theory of dramaturgy criticized this exclusivity. Hirata constructed a neutral body freed from all images and removed the various contexts upon which people unconsciously rely. This method made it possible to simulate the diversity of society but was also limited in that it ignored the actors’ bodies.
Toshiki Okada’s theatrical company, chelfitsch revolutionized the theater scene of the 2000s onward by critically developing Hirata’s methods. The strange movements of the chelfitsch actors represent those removed images, which appear in the unconscious reactions of the body. Okada’s dramaturgy succeeded in producing a sense of community through a method that is different from that of Aum Shinrikyō by coaxing audience sympathy with these bodily images.
chelfitsch was split when actor, Taichi Yamagata founded his own company in 2015, Office Mountain. Yamagata’s Taichi Method transmits to the actors’ body an image that goes beyond human senses by taking the movements developed by chelfitsch to the extreme. The works of Office Mountain hint at a new “herd” that represents a mutation in commonsensical notions of community and departs from contexts known to humans.