04/23/2023, 18.00 – 19.50

In Japanese with German and English surtitles

(Fortress of Smiles)

by Kuro Tanino
Director: Kuro Tanino
Stage A

Two houses in a village on the Japanese coast, wall to wall. The kitchenette, tatami mats and tables are arranged as if mirroring each other. Identical doors lead outside at the back; both houses open onto a terrace, granting a view into the everyday life taking place inside. In one house, a group of fishermen meet every day after work to cook, eat together and drink cheerful toasts; in the other, an old lady suffering from Alzheimer’s moves in and is supported by her son who works as a civil servant in the nearby city. Reluctantly supported by his 18-year-old daughter, he strives to give his mother a few final weeks by the sea. Two worlds that could not be more different: joyful celebrations on the left, evidence of an old woman’s physical and mental decline mounting up on the right as the father and granddaughter’s desperation grows. In a brief moment of encounter between the two locations, a spark of joy spreads from one to the other, but then quickly dissipates. Rather than featuring dramatic upheavals, Kuro Tanino’s production focuses on the small dramas of everyday life. The qualified psychiatrist and director allows us to participate in his experiment and, almost incidentally, discovers the circumstances that also determine life: simple fishermen are up against the thriving officialdom of the city, traditional family values are confronted by the individualistic wishes of a younger generation. Whether it is the tragedy of aging and the obstacles to family cohesion or the ups and downs of friendship and community — in his hyper-realistic and detailed stage design, Tanino places the complicated and sometimes barely visible mechanisms of human coexistence centre stage. The poetic evening reveals that even profound changes often take place imperceptibly.

Kuro Tanino was born in Toyama in 1976 into a family of psychiatrists and founded his theatre company Niwa Gekidan Penino (Theatre of the Garden Penino) in 2000 whilst still a medical student. He develops and writes his own plays, most recently »Chekov?!« (2011), »The Room Nobody Knows« (2012), »Box in the Big Trunk« (2013), »Tanino to Dwarf-tachi ni yoru Kantor ni Sasageru Homage« (2015), »The Dark Master« (2003, 2006, 2016). His play »Avidya—The Dark Inn« (2015) won the 60th Kunio Kishida Drama Award. He is also the recipient of the 2016 Cultural Affairs Agency Arts Festival Excellence Award and the 2019 Toyama Prize in Arts and Culture.

With: Hatsune Sakai, Kazuya Inoue, Koichiro F. O. Pereira, Masato Nomura, Masayuki Mantani, Natsue Hyakumoto, Susumu Ogata
Stage Manager: Masaya Natsume, Yuhi Kobayashi
Director Assistant: Haruka Kikuchi, Kodachi Kitagata
Scenography: Takuya Kamiike
Lighting Design: Masayuki Abe
Sound Design: Koji Shiina
Tour Manager: Chika Onozuka, Shimizu Tsubasa
Production: Niwa Gekidan Penino, Arche LLC.,
Translated by The Japan Foundation
German Translation: Andreas Regelsberger
English Translation: Susan E. Jones
Coproduction: Arts Council Tokyo, ONDA (Paris), Fondation pour l’étude de la langue et de la civilisation japonaises (Paris), Sasakawa Foundation Japan (Tokyo) 


Duration: ca. 110 minutes

Supported by the Freunde der Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz e. V.