- Double Noraby Ueda Kuniyoshi, Mori Mitsuya, and Tsumura Reijirō
Double Nora, a nōadaptation of A Doll’s Houseby Henrik Ibsen, is an innovative play that represents not only the fusion of the East and the West, but also that of traditional and modern worlds. The overall theatricality is derived from nō, but two actors perform the role of Nora––a male nōactor, Tsumura Reijirō, and a female actor of shingeki(modern Japanese drama), Mizuno Yū. Moreover, the theme of A Doll’s House, the independence of women, is apparently foreign to nō. The Natori Theater Company has been actively producing Ibsen’s plays, and Double Norabecame one of their most long-running plays. It was first performed in Tokyo on 9 August 2005, and the same company of actors performed Double Norain Skien (Ibsen’s birth city), as well as Bergen, Stockholm, and London. In 2006, they had another European tour and performed Double Noraat the International Ibsen Festival in Oslo. On 30 May 2008 and 10 December 2013, Double Norawas performed once again in Tokyo. The overseas performances use the familiar story of A Doll’s Houseto showcase the traditional theatricality of nō, and the domestic performances show the popularity of Ibsen’s works in Japan expressed unconventionally. Although much attention has been paid to the ambitious combination of seemingly unmatched theatrical form and content, as far as I am aware, there have not yet been critical reviews to answer how and why this production of Double Norawas successful. This review is based on the performance in 2008 and the two versions of the scripts––Ueda Kuniyoshi’s published script of Double Noraand [End Page 612]the modified version by a nōactor of the Kanze school, Tsumura Reijirō, and a translator of Ibsen’s works, Mori Mitsuya. Ueda’s play, which was never performed as written, is structurally closer to the conventional nōplay, while the modified version is closer to Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, but contains more technical devices of nō. These two versions further our understanding of key aspects in intercultural theatre, which often risks simply mimicking the structure and appearance of Asian theatre for the performance of Western plays.
Ueda Kuniyoshi has been engaged in the theatrical fusion between the East and the West and has written nōadaptions of Shakespearean plays, such as Othello, Hamlet, and Cleopatra(a combination of Antony and Cleopatraand Julius Caesar), and of a modern European play, Thomas Becket (Murder in the Cathedral). On the production of Double Nora, Ueda discovered two points in A Doll’s Housethat led him to believe that the play could be adapted into a nōplay. One was Nora’s adoration of the ocean, which Ueda considered to be a key for the poetic environment of nō, and another point was Nora’s breakthrough from her vain life as a daughter and a wife for the dramatic revelation of the leading character in nō(Ueda 2006: 4). Ueda’s nōadaption of A Doll’s Housebegins with a Japanese priest traveling to Norway. He then encounters Torvald, who confesses to the priest that he regretfully drove his wife out of the house three years ago. As the priest prays to comfort Torvald, Nora appears and converses with Torvald. Once they end their unresolved discussion, the interlude begins. Yet, instead of kyōgenactors, two shingekiactors explain and reenact the scenes in A Doll’s House. Afterward, the spirit of Nora dances and chants with the chorus, and she and Torvald arrive at reconciliation. He understands how she has become free and graceful like the blue ocean that continues to bless the land.
Ueda’s original adaptation of A Doll’s Housefollows the structure of mugen(dream) nō, which begins with the appearance of a traveling priest and ends with the dance of a spirit. Among classical nōplays, this play resembles Kinuta...