Table Speech

“Takarazuka and I”

March 7, 2007

Mr. Shinji Ueda,
Member of the Board and Special Advisor,
Takarazuka Kagekidan

 Since I joined Takarazuka Kagekidan in 1957, it has been 50 years. I have produced more than one hundred plays and “Higher than the Sky of Paris” now playing at Tokyo Takarazuka Theatre is my 101st production.

 50 years ago is the year Prime Minister Kishi formed his cabinet. That was the year Sputnik, which was the first Russian manned satellite, was launched.

 I graduated from Department of Theatre of Waseda University in 1956 but Takarazuka was not hiring producers at that time, therefore I started to work at Production Department of Takarazuka Movie Company and waited for the opportunity to apply to Takarazuka as a producer. The following year, I was asked to work at Takarazuka starting January 13, 1957.

 January of 1957 was a very memorable month for me and for Takarazuka. Mr. Ichizo Kobayshi, the founder of Takarazuka, passed away at the age of 84 on the 25th of that month. I was new in this business and I did not know my way around but I helped with the funeral music at Takarazuka Theatre on January 30, guiding important guests, which was my first job at Takarazuka.

 Ever since, even now, I feel very close to Mr. Kobayashi, because I was born in January, which is same as Mr. Kobayashi and I am 60 years younger than Mr. Kobayashi born in the same oriental zodiac.

 As it has been 50 years since I joined Takarazuka in which I have produced more than 100 plays, a special play called “50th anniversary of Mr. Shinji Ueda as Producer, Special Memorandum of Dream-Shinji Ueda/Track of Heart” was held on November 27, at Takarazuka Theatre.

 This special performance was broadcasted on Takarazuka Channel of Sky Perfect TV. Because of this performance, I was interviewed by the mass media. I was often asked “What is the reason why you could continue to produce for 50 years?”

 I think the evaluation of our production should not be done by ourselves but by the audience of the theatre.

 Even if you insist that a production is superb, if the audience does not appreciate it, you can not call it a good production.

 But I do not want to say that my production is not good in order to show my humbleness.

 Even when I tried very hard to create a good play, on the first day of opening, I often find the audience does not understand what I intended to show, which makes me reflect on my mistakes.

 I have worked for the past 50 years. But what is more important that Takarazuka has been in existence for around 94 years. This is a long long time. Takarazuka survived the changes over the years which was only possible by the protection and guidance of Mr. Ichizo Kobayashi.

 Takarazuka went through war time and confusion after the war, thanks to the protection of Mr. Ichizo Kobayashi.

 Why did Mr. Kobayashi back up Takarazuka so strongly? He was a leader in the business world and he became a Cabinet Minister when he went into politics in order to reconstruct the Japanese economy after the war. I have always wondered why such a powerful man loved Takarazuka so much.

 My opinion on this was formed after the Kansai Awaji Earthquake hit the Kansai area on 5:46 in the morning of January 17, 1996 and serious damages were caused. Takarazuka also suffered serious damages but recovered in two months by the effort of the people concerned. We reopened the theatre, but the transportation system was not fully recovered and there were many buildings still in devastated condition. I was very much concerned because people may think a glamourous theatre is not suitable in the situation which people were facing.

 Though we had such an uneasy feeling, we decided to open the theatre in March. At the end of the first day of the production, I was standing at the lobby of the theatre to see off our customers.

 A lady came to meet me and said “I live in Tarumi and I had to change trains seven times to come here. Our house was destroyed. A member of our family was hurt. But I was encouraged by the play today. Therefore I will work more positively starting tomorrow. Thank you very much.” After hearing what she said I really felt that “Our work is contributing to the society.” Then I realized that this is what Mr. Kobayashi was probably thinking.

 Mr. Kobayashi considered that cultural activities are as important as politics and the economy in the life of the people. Mr. Kobayashi left the message that society must be sound in three areas, namely economy, politics and culture.

 I have been in this business for 50 years. I do not know how much I can do from now on but I would like to contribute to the history of Takarazuka.
We live in history. We can not deny history. It is important to work while respecting the history.

 Work is like a point and history is like a line. Therefore the work has to be on the line.

 Otherwise the work will be forgotten later.
If the point is on the line, even if the point is small, it will stay there forever.

 Takarazuka Kagekidan started in 1914 and it has been 93 years. Our 100 year anniversary will come soon.

 If you can attend the theatre performance of “Higher than Sky of Paris” now playing until April 1st, it will be very much appreciated.