Nuclear Catastrophes and the Theatre in Tokyo, 1945-2016

Iwaki, Kyoko. 2017. Nuclear Catastrophes and the Theatre in Tokyo, 1945-2016. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (Nuclear Catastrophes and the Theatre in Tokyo, 1945-2016)
THE_thesis_IwakiK_2017.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (3MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

Based on the analytical framework that nuclear threats have always affected Japan after World War II, this thesis develops an alternative narrative of post-war Japanese theatre through the socio-cultural analyses of selected A-bomb (atomic bomb) and post-Fukushima plays. By shedding light on those plays, which respond to Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Fukushima; and, by juxtaposing those theatre-makers not previously associated with one another, the study introduces five types of theatre, which are products of nuclear-afflicted society.

Drawing from Robert J. Lifton’s contention that nuclear aftermath could be ‘invisible’, the study focuses on plays that not only report the tangible outcomes of the event, but also imagine beyond visible calamities. By adopting the interdisciplinary methodology of the Sociology of the Theatre, this thesis demonstrates how the plays in question materialised through constant dialogue with nuclear-afflicted societies. The keynote that this thesis strikes is that the languages, methodologies and aesthetics that are adopted in theatres, which respond to and represent various nuclear catastrophes, challenge the border of polar opposites such as here/there, life/death, science/ belief, rational/absurdity and present/past.

The five strands of nuclear-afflicted theatres and the set of theatre-makers introduced are: ‘The Theatre of Collective Kūki’ (air) developed by Noda Hideki; ‘The Theatre of Guilt and Self-Censorship’, introduced through works by Hotta Kiyomi, Inoue Hisashi and Okada Toshiki; ‘The Theatre of Sensate Atomisation’, which argues the political standpoints of Miyoshi Jūrō and Takayama Akira; ‘The Comedy of Post-humanism Absurdity’, that deals with the post-humanist and post-human theories of Betsuyaku Minoru and Matsui Shū; and ‘The Theatre of Nuclear Nostalgia’, in which Kitamura Sō and Fujita Takahiro present a bifocal time structure. Rather than chronologically, the study is thematically structured, through which arguments on why analytical parallels could be drawn between theatres after Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Fukushima are developed.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Theatre, Japan, Hiroshima, Fukushima, Nuclear Catastrophe

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP)


30 November 2017

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

13 Dec 2017 15:26

Last Modified:

30 Nov 2020 02:26


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)