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TOKYO

A monk’s teenage angst can be monstrous

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

Monsters and runaways aren’t usually the kinds of problems teenagers face, but a Tokyo-based theater troupe thinks these are the kinds of conundrums that await teenage monks.

This weekend, the troupe Tateyoko Kikaku will present two works that are part of a series of plays that focus on rookie monks. The first of those two productions is titled “Amefurashi Zanzaka” (“Let it Rain Hard”). While the rest of the series presumably deals with more relatable problems, the opening performance delves into the supernatural. Set in a quiet coastal town, the play revolves around local lore of a mythological monster named Amefurashi that kidnaps children whenever there is heavy rainfall. One day, a warning arrives stating Amefurashi is coming, leaving the monks on high alert.

The second story, “Suwatte wa Mita Keredo” (“Although I Sat Down”), is about a monk who runs away from his daily ascetic training. While on the run, he contemplates the direction of his life, and struggles with the decision to continue to run or return to fulfill his duties as a monk.

Tateyoko Kikaku includes among its members Akane Otsuka, Ryoichi Nishiyama and Asako Ichihashi. Perhaps a sign of its unusual approach to theater, the group is not beholden to prewritten scripts and instead prioritizes real-life human relationships between its members and the spontaneous use of their language. Thus the original script will be rewritten a number of times once practices begin and sometimes whole new plots are added.

“Amefurashi Zanzaka” and “Suwatte wa Mita Keredo” take place at Space Zatsuyu in Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, from Jan. 24 until Feb. 3. Tickets cost ¥ 3,800. Performance times vary. For more information, call: 03-5490-3753 or visit www.tateyoko.com (in Japanese).