I would like to tell you a little bit more about Lockea, since it is an indispensible place to talk about Franceo.
Kusano stepped down about a year after the theater opened, and his father became the second president. The success of the strip was a joy, but my father, who was originally a theatrical fan and entered this world, probably had in his mind a desire to see the play one day. At the beginning, they changed the show with only strips to a double feature of 1 hour and a half strips and 1 hour play. This structure was taken over by the Franco-za, which later became the basis of the birth of many comedians from Asakusa.
They wanted comedians because they needed actors to perform. Junzaburo Ban, an actor from Yamagata Prefecture who was not known at that time, applied for the position. He later became a big star, nicknamed Banjun, and was the first chairman of the Rockies. I was at the mercy of the times of war, and as I had to work for a long time, the art of mastery was really interesting. The unique speaking style of the Tohoku accent was also very popular among the customers. He was a member of the Rock Theater for about three years, and it is obvious that he has been active since he moved to the film industry, but he is also a person who contributed to the development of Asakusa. He is actually the inventor of the Asakusa Samba Carnival.
If the star of the actor is Jun Ban, the star of the customer is this one.
One day, there was an elderly customer who came to visit frequently. When the show is over, the old man will give you chocolate or something from the Occupation forces, so the dancers will be happy. But I don’t know anyone. The backstage also said, “Who the hell is that dirty little Ji?” lol. One day, however, when his father happened to be in the dressing room and saw his grandfather’s face, he said, “Aren’t you Nagai Kafu Sensei by any chance?”. My father who loves plays saw Nagai’s works performed at the opera house in Rokku before the war, and he knew about it because of that.
After that, Kafu Sensei was excused from Kido-sen. I went in and out every day, and thank you so much for writing plays for the Rock and for treating the dancers to dinner when the stage opened. However, even Kafu Sensei stayed in the dressing room and relaxed all the time, saying, “I’m harmless because I’m a man and a beast,” and even took a bath with dancers as he liked (laughs), and I think he had a family feeling before long.
When it was decided to build the second theater in response to the success of the rock group, my father consulted Kafu about what to do with the name of the group. Yes, the godfather of Franceza is Nagai Kafu, a great writer who wants to hide something. As can be seen in his masterpiece “Furansu Monogatari,” Kafu, who experienced living in France when he was young, gave the name to me because it was the home of an artistic strip show. The official name of Toyokan is still “Asakusa French-za Engeijo Toyokan” because I want to preserve the important name given to me by Mr. Kafu.
It is a rough idea, but this is how the Asakusa French-za started. It was a ship carrying the passion of many people in the chaos after the war.
From now on, I will tell you a little bit about my life, the ups and downs of Asakusa Rokku Kogyo-gai, and the brilliant comedians who performed at the Franco-za. Well, who shall we start with … Well, I guess this is the right person to be a top batter.
Next time, I would like to introduce the story of Kiyoshi Atsumi, the “Tora-san” who left Asakusa and became an unshakable national superstar. Please look forward to it …!