To launch Za Koenji, the new public theater in Suginami Ward designed by Toyo Ito, artistic director Makoto Sato made the bold decision to present “Keshou Two Acts” (“Makeup”), a one-woman play by renowned writer and director Hisashi Inoue that stars Misako Watanabe. Now 76, the veteran actress first performed the 90-minute play 27 years ago and has taken it through at least one run every year since then, including two tours of Japan and ones in Europe, North America and Southeast Asia.

“Keshou” is about the leader of a Taishu Engeki theater group (of which there are around 150 in Japan today). These touring family troupes stage samurai dramas followed by traditional dances in kimono, after which audience members often throw money on the stage.

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