Play challenges woman’s role by examining the life of poet Kanoko Okamoto


Staff Writer

Can an artist justify her pursuit of extra-marital affairs for the sake of maintaining her artistic inspiration? Can a woman’s husband and her son nurture an amicable, trusting relationship with her young lover living in their house?

Such questions — and many more — will be raised in a new play titled “Egeria,” based on the life of poet and novelist Kanoko Okamoto (1889-1939), better known as the mother of the late avant-garde artist Taro Okamoto (1911-1996).

Staged by major theater company Bungakuza, the play takes its name from Egeria, the Roman goddess of fountains and springs. According to ancient myth, she was known for her beauty and for being an eternal source of inspiration for men. Kanoko adored Egeria and tried to live like her, defying expectations and challenging the notion of how women were supposed to live in prewar Japan.

Screenwriter Kaoru Setoguchi masterfully captures Kanoko’s relentless, even self-destructive, pursuit of literary art, as well as the oddly symbiotic relationship of the men surrounding her, while exploring the universal themes of family, love, parent-child relationships and art.

“Egeria” will be staged in Japanese from Sep 7 through Sep 23 at the Kichijoji Theater in Musashino, Tokyo. Admission is ¥5,500 for adults, ¥3,800 for those aged 25 and younger, and ¥2,500 for high school students. For details, call (03) 3351-7265 or visit www.bungakuza.com.