Chairman of Toyo Kogyo (Asakusa French-za Engeijo Toyokan) Hisayuki Matsukura’s Asakusa Rokku Geinoden < 3rd > “Hisashi Inoue”
The previous story was about Kiyoshi Atsumi, who had left the stage of the Franco-za to enter the film world, but this time, it was about the same time that a young literary man was active behind the scenes. His name is Akira Inoue. Yes, it is Hisashi Inoue who later received Naoki Prize and became a national writer.
At that time, the theater had a close relationship with actors and writers. I would like to talk about the situation and the episode with Atsumi.
In 1956. Five years after its opening, the French-za Theater was still in full swing. Even if you put a job advertisement, there are so many applicants that there is a long line.
Mr. Inoue, who was a student of Sophia University’s French Department, came in after overcoming difficulties. I was hired as a member of the literary club because of my writing skills, but when I asked him what he was good at, he said he was good at baseball (laughs). At that time, our company had an adult baseball team (which was strong enough to produce professional players), so sometimes I was sent out to practice games. Although he was not a prominent type, he was quite a unique young man.
Here, I will explain a little about the literature department where he was assigned. The French show consists of two parts: a play and a strip. Of course, the audience is for the strip, but how to attract the audience in the play until the dancer appears is a very important factor. Therefore, it became necessary to become a playwright (zatsuki sakka) exclusively assigned to huts where they could write interesting plays. The department they register is the literature department. Even though I’m a writer, I can’t stay like a teacher. Rather, in a sense, you can say that they are specialists in the understudy (laugh).
First of all, a stage facilitator. Starting with the raising and lowering of the curtain, adjusting the microphone and props, making sounds, giving instructions to the backstage, calling the performers, sometimes taking care of the dancers and even acting for the actors! It is a hard work with a lot of responsibility, but grasping the flow of the whole stage like this is the best training for writing a work.
And the most important thing is to make a script, but this is extremely hard! The program changes every half month, so the 15th day is the last day of the performance and the night before the first day of the performance, but as the members of the literature club were busy as mentioned above, it was not common that the next call had not been raised even on the musical day. In such a case, all of them stay up all night, and as soon as the writer writes a page, a newcomer makes a mimeographed version and hands it over to the actor for practice. The first day of the festival is literally a night out, so both actors and writers should be trained. The slapstick behind the stage is the real comedy! I think this is one of the reasons why Asakusa Comedians are so powerful.
Kiyoshi Atsumi, who had been recuperating from tuberculosis, returned to the French theater when Inoue studied hard and finally got used to it.
Waiting anxiously for his return day, he said, ‘According to rumors, an actor named Atsumi is a genius actor, but he seems to be extremely rough. What kind of person is he …’ His expectations were betrayed in a good way, but admirably. The rumored actor was a quiet, graceful, dignified, and good-natured person, not to mention a rough one, after a major illness that roamed the world of Sakai. On top of that, when it comes to acting, it is far more wonderful than I imagined! Inoue was captivated by Atsumi in no time.
Atsumi’s memorable comeback first film was “Nurse’s Room,” which Inoue submitted at the time of the employment examination. The excellent script and the ability of the actor match perfectly, and the stage is a great success! They hit it off perfectly, and after that, many masterpieces were born. However, there was a writing agreement called Penlock in Asakusa at that time, and it was a rule not to perform works other than those of the scriptwriter to which it belonged, so it was very disappointing that I could not make my name public by saying “Saku Inoue Hisashi”.
This may be an aside, but I have some valuable documents left, so I would like to introduce some of them here.