Toshiki Okada (Japanese: 岡田利規, born 1973) is a Japanese playwright, theater director, and novelist, founder of the theatrical company chelfitsch. He was awarded the 2008 Kenzaburō Ōe Prize for The end of the special time we were allowed (Japanese: わたしたちに許された特別な時間の終わり, Watashitachi ni Yurusareta Tokubetsu na Jikan no Owari), a book consisting of two novels. He is known for "his use of hyper-colloquial Japanese and his unique choreography."
Life and Career
Born in Yokohama in 1973, Okada formed the theatrical company chelfitsch in 1997. The name chelfitsch, a play on the English language word "selfish," is always written with a lowercase c. (In katakana it is written チェルフィッチュ.) Okada has directed all of the company's productions.
His work has received numerous honors and awards. Five Days in March, a play that juxtaposes a couple spending five days in a love hotel against the beginning of the Iraq War, won the 49th Kishida drama award in 2005. Air-Conditioner/Cooler was a finalist at the 2005 Toyota Choreography Awards, and Enjoy was presented in December 2006 at the New National Theatre Tokyo. His book The end of the special time we were allowed (Japanese: わたしたちに許された特別な時間の終わり, Watashitachi ni Yurusareta Tokubetsu na Jikan no Owari), published in February 2007, consists of two novels. One is a reworking of his play Five Days in March; the other, an earlier piece, is called Our Many Places (Watashitachi no Basho no Fukusu). The book received the 2008 Kenzaburō Ōe Prize. Besides awards and recognition for specific works, he also received the 2005 Yokohama Cultural Award / Yokohama Award for Art and Cultural Encouragement.
Besides directing his own plays, he has also directed Samuel Beckett's Cascando for the Tokyo International Arts Festival Beckett Centennial Memorial Festival, Kōbō Abe's Friends at the Setagaya Public Theater, and several workshop programs with theater students.
Okada's work is distinguished by its use of fragmented and abbreviated idiosyncratic language in the vernacular of Japanese in their twenties, which is deliberately inarticulate, drawn out and circular. Accompanying the broken phrases is the physical body language of the performers, made up of disjointed gestures and movements. The performers refer to themselves in the dialogue and their characters are often labelled only "Actor One", and with the same "character" played by more than one performer.
A typical example is from the opening of Enjoy (2006), translated by Aya Ogawa:
ACTOR 1: We'll begin with Act One... This guy named Kato was riding the subway the other day, he was riding the Keio line and, he had an encounter then, when he sat next to... There were these two women who were talking, but... Kato had no intention of eavesdropping at all, of course but, while he was listening, to be honest, he... in the end, from the middle of the conversation, it did turn completely into eavesdropping but... you know how for text messaging they have those screen stickers that you put on your phone to keep your screen hidden from the person standing next to you, well there aren't such things for voices, so in a way, it's a little like too bad, you know, which may be like totally an excuse but.... but with that conversation, it was a little like no matter how you look at it, their voices were, clearly above and beyond what is a standard volume, I mean come on, was the way it seemed and that was because... on top of that the content of the conversation itself also like, would have piqued anyone's interest in this...
Works for the Stage
- On the Harmful Effects of Marihuana (2003)
- Five Days in March (2004)
- Air-Conditioner/Cooler (2004)
- The End of Toil (2005)
- Enjoy (2006)
- Freetime (2008)
- Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner, and the Farewell Speech (2009)
- We Are Someone Else Being Not Injured (2009)
- Three Women
- Zero Cost House (2012)
- Program for Five Days in March, On the Boards (Seattle), January 28–February 1, 2009.
- (Japanese) chelfitsch, official site. Accessed 5 December, 2011.
-  Pig Iron - Zero Cost House. Retrieved on 9 September, 2012.
- Interview on PerformingArts.jp website. Retrieved on 5 December, 2011.
- Full text available on AsymptoteJournal.com Retrieved on 5 December, 2011.
- chelfitsch, English-language portion of official site. Accessed 5 December, 2011.
- chelfitsch, official site