Program Information

Genre / City Theatre / Shizuoka・Tottori
Dates 27 April at 18:30, 28 April at 18:30
Venue at Open Air Theatre “UDO”, Shizuoka Performing Arts Park
Duration Approx 120minutes
Language In Japanese with English surtitles
Seat Non-reserved seating
Direction NAKASHIMA Makoto
Written ABE Kobo
Production BIRD Theatre Company TOTTORI, SPAC-Shizuoka Performing Arts Center


ABE Kobo’s vivid black comedy will have its world premiere amid nature in Nihondaira.

ABE Kobo’s “Friends” is sure to make a deep and lasting impact on audiences when it is presented at Udo, SPAC’s open-air theatre in Nihondaira, during this year’s 100th anniversary of the playwright, writer and director’s birth.

Published in 1967, Abe wrote this masterpiece, which he described as a “black comedy”, when post-war Japan was buzzing about its epoch-making economic boom. As the story unfolds, a man begins to be called a “friend” by unknown neighbors who force their kindness on him and finally subsume him into their group and ways of thinking.

Although the play oozes a Showa Era atmosphere — and was lauded by MISHIMA Yukio as a “really enviable work” — in terms of the collectivism and communality it portrays its director, NAKASHIMA Makoto, presents it as not being confined to that historical period, or even just to Japan.

Since 2006, Nakashima has been the artistic director of the Bird Theater Company Tottori in Shikano, Tottori Prefecture, where he has focused on fostering a local sense of community through the arts. Now, through this first collaboration with SPAC, both will realize a new dream on stage.

This first collaboration work between SPAC and the BIRD Theater Company TOTTORI will see a magical work by experienced actors.

NAKASHIMA Makoto’s BIRD Theater Company TOTTORI has been active since 2006 and, like SPAC in Shizuoka, it also has its own theatre. Also like SPAC, the company has consistently created works with a global perspective and has presented an annual international theatre festival that actively promotes outreach programs.

In this “Friends”, five highly experienced actors from each company portray neighbors unknown to the other family who unexpectedly gather in the protagonist’s room. Interestingly, each of these characters has a very strong personality and the actors’ competitive portrayals should not be missed.

Nakashima used to be a member of SPAC, so how he uses his former home theatre to create his own chemistry is one of the many intriguing unknowns in this new collaboration. 


One night in a city, a family of neighbors invite themselves into a man’s room without prior notice. They settle there as they explain they are rescuing him from isolation even though the man tries to get them to leave. Instead, the neighbors ignore him and, with well-meaning smiles, keep talking about the brilliance of the community and repeatedly extol the virtues of neighborly kindness. But then their behavior gradually escalates extremely … 

Director’s profile

NAKASHIMA Makoto, Artistic Director of BIRD Theatre Company. Born in 1966. Graduated from the University of Tokyo, Faculty of Law in 1990. Started to get involved with theatrical activities while in university. Founded atheatre troupe, based in Tokyo after graduation. Had been a member of Shizuoka Performing Arts Center (SPAC) for a year and half since 2004.
Started “BIRD Theatre Company” in Tottori in 2006, turning an abandoned school into a theatre. Has been aiming for the deep value of performing arts/theatres to be widely recognized by showing the cultural apparatus that has its own history of more than two thousands years: the original power of performing arts. With a focus on both the pursuit and spread of artistic value, has been involved with regional development and the field of education. Won the Grand-Prix Prize at Toga Director’s Con- test in 2003. Received the New Face Award of Minister of Education Award for Fine Arts in 2010. Received the Cultural Achievement Award Tottori in 2015. BIRD Theatre Company won the Japan Foundation Prize for Global Citizenship. The Representative of the Japan Committee for the BeSeTo Theater Festival.

BIRD Theatre Company

The company was founded in 2006, having the artistic director Makoto Nakashima lead. We are based in an abandoned elementary school in Tottori Prefecture which has the smallest population in Japan, turning its gymnasium into the theatre. In Japan, most theatres function only as facilities without creating. Therefore, it is a rare place of creations which has been operated by the artistic director. The company has gained remarkable attention as an advanced case not only in Japan but also in the East Asian region because of its high standard of creating arts and the uniqueness of its theatre operation style with the aim of local development. Our representative works are “THE VISIT” (F. Durrenmatt), “THE THREE PENNY OPERA” (B. Brecht), “MODERN NOH PLAYS” (Y. Mishima) and so on.
We have been holding the international theatre festival called “BIRD Theatre Festival” since 2008 every year. BIRD Theatre Festival has grown to be known as one of the most famous theatre festivals in Japan. We are also active with conducting human resource cultivation projects for children, creating works with disabled people and doing workshops at school.

Cast / Staff

Performed by
BIRD Theatre Company TOTTORI: NAKAGAWA Rena, TAKAHASHI Hitoshi, KOSUGE Hiroshi, YASUDA Maya, GOTO Shiori

Stage design: Jean-François GUILLON
Lighting design: OSAKO Koji
Sound: HARA Nobuhiro (oharakikaku)
Costume: YASUDA Maya

Stage manager: HARAIKAWA Yukio
Lighting operation: SAEGUSA Atsushi
Sound: HAYASHI Tetsuya
Lighting: KOBAYAKAWA Hiroya, TAKEZAWA Akira
Wardrobe: MAKINO Saho, IKEDA Yuna
Assistant director: NAKASHIMA Ako
Internship: Esther ARMENGOL
Surtitle operation: OSHIMA Naoko
Production: YUKIOKA Jun, OSHIMA Naoko, TANJI Haru, NAKASHIMA Yoshiko, NISHIO Sachiko
Volunteer: MATSUMOTO Takanori

Managing director: NARUSHIMA Yoko
Technical director: MURAMATSU Atsushi
Lighting manager: HIGUCHI Masayuki
Sound manager: SAWADA Yukino 


◎Pre-Performance Talk: Starting 30 minutes before each performance in front of the venue.

English surtitles

English surtitles will be available for the performances. We lend tablets to customers. Please come to the lending desk at the venue. (The number of rental tablets is limited.)


* Please tell us beforehand if you want to see the show with preschool children.
* Seats with no backrest.
* Performances will be held even if it rains. As the use of umbrellas is not permitted during a performance, please ensure you have suitable rainwear. You are also advised to bring warm clothes for night performances at this time of year.

Tour in Tottori

17 May at 19:00
18 May at 14:00
19 May at 14:00
【Venue】BIRD Theatre Company TOTTORI 1812-1 Shikano, Shikano-cho, Tottori City, Tottori Prefecture
★Programmes are available with English subtitles which automatically appear on iPod screen.

30 May at 19:00
31 May at 19:00
【Venue】Yonago Culture Hall 293 Suehirocho, Yonago City, Tottori Prefecture

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