By Natasha Lewin
August 6th marked the 69th anniversary of the first atomic bomb being dropped on Japan. Nicknamed the “Little Boy,” the nuclear blast killed over 140,000 people in Hiroshima and left behind a devastated city. Contemporary Japanese playwright, Hisashi Inoue, explores the topic of survivors’ guilt with his drama about moving on after life-and-death events.
Set three years after the explosion, The Face of Jizo centers around 23-year-old librarian and survivor of the blast, Mitsue Fukuyoshi (played by Kazumi Zatkin) and the relationship with her father, Takezo (Toshi Toda). Mitsue has fallen in love with one of her regulars at the library but has decided to be forever single as penance for her survival of the blast. Takezo, ever the encouraging father, has another opinion in the matter.
Presented by C.A.P.S. productions, The Face of Jizo is directed by Aramazd Stepanian who had seen a performance of the play prior to directing it. In his Director’s Notes, Aramazd says that when Toshi and Kazumi asked him to direct their version, “despite not hearing some of the dialogue… he was greatly moved by the play.”
Yes, the accents are thick, the acoustics aren’t fantastic, and the dialogue can be lost in translation, but his assessment is correct. Every word needs not be perfect — as the actors flubbed their lines often, nor do you need to hear every word. The subject matter is as universal as it is heartbreaking.
To learn more about The Face of Jizo go to www.armeniantheatre.org.