TV & Radio
Japan, China tie dramatic knot / University students to perform play on links between two countries
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Starting Monday, students of International Christian University and Nanjing University in China will perform a play they have jointly produced from the students' viewpoint about the Japan-China relationship, on the ICU campus in Mitaka, Tokyo.
The students felt their nations tended to look at their relations primarily from the standpoint of their past history, but after discussions the students realized that they should put the past behind them and build a future for themselves. The end result was a future-oriented story.
They also filmed interviews in the streets of Nanjing to make a documentary.
The five Japanese and five Chinese students who will perform in the play, met at a hotel in Nanjing. They became friends through rehearsing together but still felt shy about expressing their honest feelings to each other.
Finally, one of them said there was no reason why Japanese and Chinese could not be friends.
Another said that they should not be burdened by their nationalities.
The title of the play is "Let's Go," or "Zouba" in Chinese.
The play, which will be performed in a mixture of Japanese, Chinese and English, will portray a group of students from Japan and China trying to understand each other by overcoming cultural and language differences.
Reika Ukawa, a fourth-year ICU student in charge of publicity for the play, said the story was written based on their discussions.
From March, about 30 students prepared for the performance after the university decided to accept students from Nanjing University in April this year.
In July, six members went to Nanjing and interviewed 42 citizens, students and victims of the Nanjing Massacre about their impressions about Japan. The group expected harsh accounts, but the Chinese were forgiving, saying that the past should not dominate the future.
"Since we were nervous about history, we became defensive. China is our neighbor, but we knew nothing about it," said Ukawa, 23.
In October, three students from Nanjing University came to Japan to discuss the play with the Japanese students.
Director Yusuke Fujiwara, 23, said that in the beginning, both sides were reluctant to reveal their true feelings. But shortly before the Chinese students returned to China they began talking about history, economics and politics.
In the middle of the process, a Nanjing University professor said their finished script could not be performed in China.
Because both sides tried to understand each other by overcoming their historical backgrounds, Chinese people would have mixed feelings if Japanese were depicted as understanding the past, according to the Chinese students.
A Nanjing University student then asked why they should be preoccupied with the past, a remark that made the students aware that they did not have to discuss the past to portray Japan-China relations.
"I used to think that historical issues were essential in handling Japan-China relations, but it was a wake-up call," Fujiwara said.
They reviewed the script and completed it in mid-December, about two months before the performance begins. They are performing a dress-rehearsal for the performance that begins Monday.
"I hope people will be able to learn at least a little bit about China," Fujiwara said.
The performance runs through Thursday at ICU, with two performances Wednesday.
Advance tickets are 500 yen (600 yen for tickets at the door.)
For more information, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The performance in Nanjing is scheduled for March.
(Jan. 27, 2007)