Metropolitan Art Space: Hideki Noda’s Empire?

As much as I like Hideki Noda, I have unsettling thoughts when I look at the schedule for the Metropolitan Art Space. Since he took over a year ago, there have been several productions of his plays. Of course, he is a successful and established writer-director, and probably one of the reasons he was given the Directorship was because they hoped he would revive or produce his new work there, bringing audiences to the vast MAS in run-down Ikebukuro.

The fault may not be one of vanity (though those mammoth poster images of him sitting in profile are rather in bad taste, it has to be said). However, is it wise to have a fair chunk of the space’s budget and schedule taken up with the director’s own scripted efforts? I have no idea how the finances work and perhaps the writer’s fee and revenue from these productions is waived as part of his (no doubt generous) director’s salary. But simply on a level of integrity, neutrality and diversity — shouldn’t there be more works by other writers?

hideki noda poster

Poster announcing the appointment of Hideki Noda as Artistic Director of Metropolitan Art Space

Of course, it is unfair to suggest there haven’t been and wouldn’t be. I recently saw the excellent Gotanndadan productions there. But, on top of the two Thai versions of his plays in 2009, there was the major production of The Diver a few months back — and now I see there is to be a production of Nogyō Shōj next March for a month (one of the Thai productions was even of the same play). Admittedly, with a cast including Junko Emoto and directed by Suzuki Matsuo, this seems like an intriguing prospect. But a month-long run (a precious time in this country) of one of the director’s own works: can this really be the best use of the venue’s budget?

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