Japanese Cult Avant-Garde J • A • Seazer’s “Nuhikun – Directions to Servants” First Time on Vinyl

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The soundtrack to the Terayama Shūji theatrical play Nuhikun – Directions to Servants, by the legendary Tenjō Sajiki troupe, will be released for the first time on vinyl via Devoted Art Propaganda. The album marks the first official release of music for Tenjō Sajiki’s plays outside of Japan. The premiere is set to 19 October 2021 following a debut stream during InlanDimensions International Arts Festival 2021. The album will be released in 2×12” gatefold vinyl format and limited to 300 copies.

J • A • Seazer is a critically renowned film and theatre music composer, as well as co-director of Terayama Shūji plays and leader of the theatre troupe Laboratory of Theatre Play Ban’yū Inryoku. Seazer combines experimental rock with avant-garde theatre. His major music compositions include Heretics (1971), Ship of Fools (1976), Shintokumaru (1978). He also composed music for Tearayama’s feature films such as Boxer (1977), Death in the Country (1974) and Farewell to the Ark (1984). It’s his rock opera score to the anime Revolutionary Girl Utena though that gave J • A • Seazer mainstream recognition leading to numerous references in scenic adaptations of the movie. He also used to perform live concerts up until 2018 with his band J • A • Seazer & Akuma no Ie.

Nuhikun – Directions to Servants is Terayama Shūji’s most representative piece, which has been performed over 100 times in over 30 cities in the world. The work has been staged in huge theatres such as the Globe in Tokyo in 1989, the playhouse in the New National Theatre in 2003, Theatre 1010. The play’s title is derived from a satirical and humorous essay Directions to Servants by Jonathan Swift. Most of the characters in the play are servants, such as slaves, housemaids, farm workers, cooks or gatekeepers named after characters from Miyazawa Kenji’s fables. The story is set in a farm located in an isolated village in Tōhoku region where there is no master, thus the servants decide to play the role of the master in turns. This topsy-turvy charade attempts to question the relationship between authority and control, as well as the position of an actor and the audience.

Nuhikun – Directions to Servants exposes the audience to a sadomasochistic universe combining elements of surrealism, dream work and Brechtian Verfremdungseffekt. Accompanied by fantastic machines, rock music and operatic echoes, the production has amazed audiences with the avant-garde director’s world of wonder and visual bravado. That master-slave farce is defined not merely by the theatrical dialogue, but also by the actors’ moves to the rock-opera vibes. One observes various kinds of machinery props with the empty chair in the middle, symbolising the absence of the real master until the very end. As in many of Terayama’s plays, the absence of the main pillar stimulates the absence of the periphery.

Find out more about the play and the world of Terayama Shūji here and to sign up for updates regarding the album’s availability via Devoted Art Propaganda.

Artwork photo by: Tobiasz Papuczys during InlanDimensions International Arts Festival 2019 at The Grotowski Institute (Centre for Performing Arts Bakery), Wrocław
Layout by: Sars

The release of Nuhikun – Directions to Servants coincides with this year’s online edition of InlanDimensions International Arts Festival. In 2019 Nuhikun – Directions to Servants by Laboratory of Theatre Play Ban’yū Inryoku was invited to Poland as part of InlanDimensions International Arts Festival, primarily established to commemorate the centenary of Polish-Japanese diplomatic relations. Staged at The Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre and The Grotowski Institute, J • A • Seazer’s adaptation gained huge acclaim from both critics and the audience, being compared to the notable Polish XIX century piece of drama The Undivine Comedy by Zygmunt Krasinski with a topsy-turvy, erotic and decadent relish.

Find out more about this year’s InlanDimensions International Arts Festival here. The vinyl release of Nuhikun – Directions to Servants will be available for pre-order exclusively to InlanDimensions International Arts Festival attendees.