Tadashi Suzuki, one of the foremost figures in contemporary theatre, has long been acclaimed,first in his native Japan, then in Europe and the United States, for the striking beauty, intensity, and communal energy of his theatrical productions. Those who have seen them will quickly surmise that behind the always powerful encounters that Suzuki engineers with his actors and his audience lie both a philosophy of performance and a rigorous discipline that are unique. Those few fortunate enough to have worked with Suzuki in his actor training classes either in Japan or in U.S. know his methodfirsthand. This collection of essays written between 1980 and 1983, thefirst to be made available in Western language, makes at least the outline of his ideas somewhat more portable—and accessible, at long last, to a much wider audience.
The book reveals the psychology of a thoroughly contemporary artist. Challenged to absorb ideas from a wide variety of sources, the book helps create a powerful synthesis of the dramatic arts that can draw fresh resonance from the accomplishments of Japans greatest theatrical past. Reference to nÔ and kabuki are sprinkled through the book, but Suzuki's homage to the classics is both stronger and more heterodox than of any other figure in the postwar Japanese theatre. He has absorbed, then articulated, techniques and attitudes that serve the goals—not merely the superficial traditions—of the whole spectrum of Japanese theatre. In none of the essays does the book provide the readers with much in the way of autobiographical detail, but the outlines of his development emerge clearly. Suzuki is also a shrewd and demanding critic of the contemporary world, and of Japanese culture in particular. His observations and comments reveal a sensibility all too well attuned to the dangers and ambiguities of the times in which we all live, whatever our nationality or cultural background. The attitude he adopts…