International Essays on Theatre for Young Audiences- A Publication of ASSITEJ and ITYARN
Quiet Dissent: Citizen Activism and the Kodomo Gekijo Movement in 1960-70s Japan
55 Quiet Dissent: Citizen Activism and the Kodomo Gekijō Movement in 1960-70s Japan Michelle Solberg Two decades after the apocalypse, the signs of change and rebirth in Japan were everywhere. A rapidly rebounding economy brought middle class comforts to a broad swath of Japan’s population, and its industrial and pop culture exports were gradually building a dominant worldwide presence by the mid-1960s, project- ing a carefully crafted image of prosperity, stability, and harmony. Nevertheless, traces of conflict and upheaval stemming from the turmoil that had enveloped much of the planet during the Second World War were readily detectable be- neath the veneer of slick Toyotas, monster genre films, “cute” character goods, and animation created for worldwide mass consumption. As issues such as war memory and Cold War politics crept continually into the lives of individuals, artists and activists responded with intensity, producing work that continues to be both provocative and enlightening. Theatre scholars have thus given Japan’s vibrant theatre and arts scene of the 1960s significant attention in recent years, but they have almost uniformly neglected the theatre for young people in English language research. Despite this, the movement has strong potential to continue to inform and likely change our understanding of theatre, history, and grassroots politics in Japan and the world, as it was molded and shaped by the same cultural currents but was intended for a different audience. Integrating the binaries of global and the local, “high” culture and folk, mass culture and the more immediate, the cultural...
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