“The Road” was scheduled to be staged as a documentary theater piece looking at the relationship between Japan and Taiwan, and introducing the two countries’ different perspectives and cultures. However, a state of emergency was announced, making international travel between the two countries impossible, and giving rise to numerous discussions on the options, which included cancelling the performances and actors withdrawing from the project. In the project, fear of coronavirus was directly linked to the concept of death.
In the East Asian view of life and death, it is thought that human life is not linear, but a circle of endless death and rebirth, i.e. a continuous cycle. From that perspective, one could also say that death is the beginning of rebirth or regeneration. In 2020,a year filled with death, it was decided to create and deliver the project online in video form, in the hope that the “road” created by theater people in Japan and Taiwan might point the way to regeneration.
During the coronavirus pandemic, the Japanese and Taiwanese actors created short films, each with a different feel and style, and interspersed with traditional Taiwanese budaixi glove puppetry to give the sense of a landscape with the “sekisho” checkpoints that people are said to experience on the journey from death to rebirth. The creators hope the various landscapes presented on the seven-day journey to the underworld (Meido) will inspire a new conceptualization of rebirth.
【Our Theatre (Taiwan)】
The Taiwanese members of this project comprise Our Theater troupe members and traditional budaixi glove puppet masters and musicians. The “Gún” of the group’s name in the Taiwanese language, “Gún kio̍k-thuân,” means “our.”
The group’s philosophy is to not struggle alone, but to work on things one at a time and accomplish them together. With this approach in mind the troupe is based in Chiayi in southern Taiwan. Our Theatre performs in the disappearing indigenous Taiwanese language, with the aim of incorporating local folk culture into contemporary theater and popularizing theater in the region.
60-307, Babashita-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 162-0045
Online streaming (http://www.ryuzanji.com)