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Akira Kurosawa’s Works for Theatre and Radio

The Cheerful Factory (1942)

The Cheerful Factory (Yoki na Kojo) is a radio play which Kurosawa wrote before his feature film debut Sanshiro Sugata (1943). It aired in August 1942 by the public broadcaster NHK.

The script was rediscovered in 2010 but to the best of my understanding is not currently publicly available.

Talking (1945)

Talking (Shaberu) is a one-act play penned by Kurosawa in late 1945, shortly after Japan’s surrender to the Allied forces. The play takes place at the house of a fishmonger who is a big supporter of the wartime prime minister Hideki Tōjō, who was held responsible by some for the attacks on Pearl Harbor, among other things. The fishmonger has been a family tyrant, but now that the war has ended his family can finally confront him, showering him with all of their built-up anger. The play mirrors the atmosphere of post-war Japan, where people suddenly found themselves able to speak their minds freely again.

The play is available, in Japanese, at the Akira Kurosawa Digital Archive. Production information unknown.

Drunken Angel (1948)

During the Toho strike of 1948 when most film production at the studio was halted, Kurosawa adapted and directed his then latest film Drunken Angel (Yoidore tenshi) for stage. Many from the film’s original cast, including Toshirō Mifune and Takashi Shimura, reprised their roles from the film.

The two-act (7 scenes) Drunken Angel toured in Yokohama, Shizuoka, Kyoto, Osaka and Awajishima, playing each city for 10-20 days. The play was reportedly well received by audiences. The play is available, in Japanese, at the Akira Kurosawa Digital Archive.

A Marriage Proposal (1948)

Around the same time that Kurosawa brought Drunken Angel to the stage, he also directed a production of Anton Chekhov’s play A Marriage Proposal (Предложение, also known in English as The Proposal).

The play is a one-act farce for three characters about a marriage proposal marred by constant arguments between the proposing gentleman and his wife-to-be.