Kunio Kishida

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Kishida Kunio
Kishida Kunio 19500304.JPG
Native name 岸田國士
Born (1890-11-02)November 2, 1890
Yotsuya, Tokyo
Died March 5, 1954(1954-03-05) (aged 63)
Occupation playwright, novelist, critic, translator, impresario
Language Japanese
Nationality Japan
Alma mater Meiji University, University of Tokyo
Genre Shingeki
Notable works A Warm Current

Kunio Kishida (岸田 國士, Kishida Kunio, 2 November 1890-5 March 1954, b. Yotsuya, Tokyo, Japan) was one of the most prominent Japanese dramatists and writers of the early 20th century and is regarded as one of the founders of modern Japanese drama.[1]

Biography[edit]

His father, Shozo Kishida, descended from a samurai family of Kishu and worked as a military officer in the imperial guard. As the eldest son in his family, it was expected that Kishida would carry on the military tradition.[2] He graduated from the Japanese Military Academy in 1912, and he served as sub-lieutenant in the army for two years. In 1916 Kishida enrolled at the University of Tokyo in order to study French Literature. While attending university, Kishida became interested in French theatre, and in 1919 he left the University of Tokyo without graduating and sailed for France. He arrived in Paris in 1920, and managed to sustain himself by working part-time as a translator for the Japanese Embassy and for the Secretariat of the League of Nations. Kishida started to attend lectures at the University of Paris, and it was through his professor there that he was introduced to Jacques Copeau. He studied the nuances of French theatre under Copeau, and he became exposed to performances of Shakespeare, Chekhov, and Beaumarchais through Copeau’s productions.[3] In October 1922, Kishida experienced a lung hemorrhage and left his studies to recuperate in southern France. A month into his recovery, Kishida heard news that his father died and he immediately returned to Tokyo to take care of his mother and sisters.

He became interested in earnestly pursuing playwriting after a dinner with author Yuzo Yamamoto in early 1923. The earthquake that wreaked havoc in Tokyo in 1923 caused Kishida to put his playwriting on hold and pursue other means of making a living. By 1924, Kishida had become a large force in the rebirth of the New Theatre movement in the wake of the earthquake, helping to establish the magazine Engeki Shincho (New Currents of Drama) along with the founder of the Tsukiji Little Theater Kaoru Osanai.[4] It was in this magazine that Kishida’s earliest play Furui Omocha (Old Toys) was first published. While they started out as colleagues, the disparity in ideals between Kishida and Osanai caused a rift in their relationship. Kishida wrote a scathing review for a literary magazine of the first three productions at the Tsukiji Little Theater, criticizing the actors, choice of plays, and the character of Osanai himself. In turn, Osanai cut off all relations with Kishida and refused, despite popular demand, to produce any of his plays.[5]

After the falling-out with Osanai, Kishida went on to pursue his own writing career, working for a variety of prominent literary reviews and magazines, including Bungei shunju (Literary Annals) and Bungei Jidai (Literary Age). It was through these magazines that Kishida gained a foothold in the world of Japanese drama.[6]

Kishida founded the Bungakuza (Literature Theatre Company)in 1937, which went on to produce a variety of famous actors, actresses (including his own daughter Kyōko Kishida), and dramatists (including the acclaimed playwright Tanaka Chikao).

In 1938, Kishida was sent by the Japanese government to the southern front of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in China in order to chronicle the conflict. Considered to be a “safe” literary figure by the increasingly oppressive Japanese government because of his introspective style and non-inflammatory political beliefs, Kishida detailed his travels in China in his book Jugun gojunichi (Following the Troops for Fifty Days).[7]

On March 5th, 1954 Kishida died in a Tokyo theater of a sudden stroke during a dress rehearsal.[8]

After his experiences with theatre in France, Kishida became highly critical of Japanese drama, believing it to be far below European theatre. Kishida faced a Japanese theatrical world that he believed to be devoid of properly trained actors, full of pretentious political ideals, and lacking an audience that was attune to modern drama.[9]

His name is prefixed to the most famous prize for drama in Japan, the annual Kishida Prize for Drama (Kishida Kunio Gikyoku-shō).[10]


Major works[edit]

Drama[edit]

  • Old Toys (1924)
  • Autumn in Tirol (1924)
  • Paper Balloon (1926)
  • The Shower (1926)
  • Diary of Falling Leaves (1927)
  • Two Daughters of Mr. Sawa (1935)
  • A Warm Current (1943)
  • Hayamizu Girls School (1948)

Novel[edit]

  • Rakuyou nikki

See also[edit]

  • Mikio Naruse, directed a film "Sudden Rain 驟雨" based on his plays.

Further reading[edit]

  • Rimer, J. Thomas (1974). Toward a modern Japanese theatre: Kishida Kunio. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-06249-5. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kalb, Jonathan (2005-05-17). "Western Drama With a Japanese Accent". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-08. 
  2. ^ Rimer, J. Thomas (1974). Toward a modern Japanese theatre, Kishida Kunio. Princeton: N.J. ISBN 0-691-06249-8. 
  3. ^ Rimer, J. Thomas (1974). Toward a modern Japanese theatre, Kishida Kunio. Princeton: N.J. ISBN 0-691-06249-8. 
  4. ^ Rimer, J. Thomas (1974). Toward a modern Japanese theatre, Kishida Kunio. Princeton: N.J. ISBN 0-691-06249-8. 
  5. ^ Rimer, J. Thomas (1974). Toward a modern Japanese theatre, Kishida Kunio. Princeton: N.J. ISBN 0-691-06249-8. 
  6. ^ Rimer, J. Thomas (1974). Toward a modern Japanese theatre, Kishida Kunio. Princeton: N.J. ISBN 0-691-06249-8. 
  7. ^ Mayo, Marlene J. War, Occupation, and Creativity: Japan and East Asia, 1920-1960. Honolulu: U of Hawai'i, 2001. Print.
  8. ^ Miller, J. Scott. Historical Dictionary of Modern Japanese Literature and Theater. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow, 2009. Print.
  9. ^ Rimer, J. Thomas (1974). Toward a modern Japanese theatre, Kishida Kunio. Princeton: N.J. ISBN 0-691-06249-8. 
  10. ^ An Overview

External links[edit]