Bunshi-Geki (文士劇)

The bunshi-geki is an amateur drama performed mainly by literary people such as writers and journalists.

Summary. It was the performances by the Wakaba-kai which was organized in the Meiji period and its reconstituted organization, the Tokyo Mainich Shimbun Engeki-kai that made the bunshi-geki widely accepted.

Wakaba-kai, Tokyo Mainichi Shimbun Engeki-kai
The Wakaba-kai was organized in 1905 by drama critics of newspaper companies in Tokyo.

Its leading members were as follows: Nobuhiko MIGITA, Kigoromo KURISHIMA in the Tokyo Asahi Shimbun, Onitaro OKA, Shiko OKAMURA in the Niroku Shimbun, Baisetsu ISAKA in the Jiji Shimpo, Oko KASHIMA in the Hocchi Shimbun, Ryokusui KOIDE in the Jiji Tsushin, Ganami SUGI in the Tokyo Mainich, Toshiro MATSUMOTO in the Jinmin Shimbun and so on, and Kido OKAMOTO in the Mainichi Shimbun as a writer.

The first play was performed in the Kabuki-za on May 11, 1905. The programs were "the third Act of Kanadehon Chushingura", 'Yasuna Kyoran', and "Nichiren Shonin Tsuji Seppo" by MORI Ogai, "Tenmokuzan" by Kido OKAMOTO and so on, which gained unexpected popularity. Subsequently the second play was presented in May, 1906.

Thereafter, in order to manage the bunshi-geki as an enterprise the Tokyo Mainichi Shimbun organized the Tokyo Mainichi Shimbun Engeki-kai with SUGI, KURISHIMA and OKAMOTO as leading members and put the first play on the stage of the Meiji-za for five days from December 1, 1906. Female roles were acted by Kuwahachi ICHIKAWA, Noshiho BANDO and other actresses and professional female impersonators including Sumizo ICHIKAWA, Shinjuro ICHIKAWA and others.

It had had six performances by December, 1908, but it dispersed because of changes of organization of the Tokyo Mainichi Shimbun.

Morioka Bunshi-geki
The Morioka bunshi-geki began in 1949 with Hikojiro SUZUKI, a writer, as a central figure and had been performed thirteen times until 1962 at the Morioka Theater (old Morioka Theater) as a Morioka's annual year-end attraction.

In 1990 the Morioka Theater was rebuilt (new Morioka Theater), and the bunshi-geki also came back. Since then to the present (2007), the bunshi-geki has been performed only in this theater in Japan. At present not only the local writers but also local cultural figures and local people from media are on the stage. Plays in dialect by broadcast announcers are performed and gaining popularity.

Mystery Writers of Japan, Inc. On September 27, 1997, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Mystery Writers of Japan, Inc., a bunshi-geki "The Nijjumenso We Loved" was put on the stage with Kenzo KITAKAWA as a chief director, Masaki TSUJI as a scenario writer and forty-two members as actors and actresses.

[Original Japanese]