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Published December 6, 2020

Playwright and director HIRATA Oriza is one of the key figures in the contemporary theater scene in Japan. On August 15-17, 2018, he visited Manila for the audition of Manila Notes, an international collaborative theater production with Tanghalang Pilipino. After the audition, he met with journalist Ibarra C. Mateo for a two-hour interview. Here are some excerpts about the background, influences and theme of Manila Notes. Oriza Hirata (right) and Ibarra C. Mateo

Can you discuss how Tokyo Notes came about? 

Tokyo Notes premiered in 1994; and I received the Kishida Kunio Drama Award for the play the following year. When France hosted the World Cup in 1998, they invited writers from finalist countries; I was one of them. We did a reading performance of Tokyo Notes, which was very well appreciated and which led to an actual creation of the play in France. In 2000, we had five performances in national theaters in different parts of France, starting with Paris. The one that we did in France was a collaborative project with a French director. Since then, I have continuously been performing many productions in France.

Can you tell us in which countries the play had been shown?

In 2000, my theater company Seinendan did a tour around the United States of America and Canada; and in 2002, we did a tour in Europe. Then, we began our tour in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia in Southeast Asia in 2006. At that time, South Korea began doing it as an adaptation in their country, so they made Seoul Notes which had more than a hundred stage performances through the years. On February 2017, we started a new project in line with Tokyo Notes. First we made Taipei Notes. Last October 2017, we made Bangkok Notes. This year, we have Manila Notes. In 2019, we are going to have Tokyo Notes, International version. So we will have actors from Taiwan, Thailand, Philippines, and South Korea, and they will work together with Japanese actors and create a new kind of Tokyo Notes. And we plan to run the play in several areas in Japan. If possible, somehow in the near future, I would like to have the performance done in Europe.

Click here full version of the interview article of Mr. Ibarra and Mr. Hirata.

This Interview was first published in The Japan Foundation, Manila Suki Magazine October 2018.