Dramaturgy Satoshi Miyagi
Encounters With “others”

There are times when I ponder upon why I am involved in theatre - not what got me started in theatre, but the reason why I continue to be so.(Often the things that get one started on something are accidental (inconsequential).It is what makes one continue the activity that reflects what one cannot do without (one’s true inner self?).

There are two reasons which I arrive at- one is because I want to change myself.Another is because I want to know myself.

Writing this makes it appear that the two reasons are paradoxical.Let’s look at these in greater detail.

I am not content with the present “me.”This is the case now, and this has always been the case up until now.

What I am talking about here is neither self-hatred nor self-denial.It is because I acknowledge myself for who I am that I feel strongly about bettering myself.What does it mean to “acknowledge myself”?It means that I look upon “myself” as something that was mostly created by “nature” and not by me- and to be amazed at this miracle of creation.In other words, it is as though the universe has allowed me to exist, and that the fact that I am present on this earth is in itself a “celebration.”

This miracle was not acquired through my powers, but through the 45 billion years since the birth of life on this planet.In comparison, what I have achieved to contribute to who I am is incomparably imperfect.It is not even comparable, yet I cannot help but think about how to better those parts of myself that are within my ability to do so.I cannot even get close to thinking, “I’m doing pretty well here” (perhaps this means I have too high aspirations for myself!).

I am determined to change myself because I am always dissatisfied with myself.In order to do so, it is necessary to encounter something other than oneself.By encountering and facing something other than oneself, that is “another entity,” one will inevitably have to change.

However, if that “other entity” you face were a human being, both parties will always be affected and will change.I have traveled and performed all over the world to search for such encounters, and have come to the realization that most people are afraid to change.And this includes myself.

There are probably few people who are content with themselves.Many people probably think that they would like to be different from what they are now.In searching for their new selves, people go to the theatre and travel abroad.Ironically, when people embark on such journeys (to go to the theatre, or to perform in a play is also in a sense a journey), they are skillfully protective.When one encounters something that one does not know or encounters a new experience that one cannot handle, one tries to deal with it within one’s known and established framework.It is while one does not have this craft, which is the case in adolescence, that a journey is a true journey.Love, artistic experiences, etc will continuously change a person during this period.God gave humans the “courage to change themselves” by giving them the special period of adolescence.However, adolescence passes by and everyone reminisces upon that period- this signals that one has attained the capability to not change oneself, not put oneself in danger, and to avoid agitation/stress.

As I came to the realization on the difficulty of changing oneself, it made me desire even more strongly a miraculous encounter that could change me.And there have been a few times when I have been able to savor “journeys” which have shaken my way of thinking to its roots, which in turn made me feel the wonders of what created my existence (Kunauka’s performance in Tibet is one such example).

In order to change oneself, I wrote that it is necessary to meet others.I also mentioned that in actual fact, I am afraid of meeting “others,” and those others are also afraid, which makes the occurrence of such encounters very difficult.

The “others” I mention here can be defined as something that makes you experience a sense of discomfort.In order to live as comfortably as possible and to use as little energy as possible to live, people tend to train themselves in their daily lives to feel as little of this “discomfort” as possible.This ability is the skill to protect oneself that I touched upon earlier.People use expressions such as “scary” or “weird” or “gross” or “a pain” to distance themselves from anything that makes them experience discomfort.In this way, one puts a barrier around oneself and ensures that there is no direct contact with the outside world.In doing so, one also tries to clean out the outside world for it to only contain that which one can process.Such is the result of a “closed in” contemporary society.

But when one thinks about it, how much do we really know about the “self” which we wall in?

There are times when I feel that “myself” is an unimaginable monster- not huge, that is, but a peculiar monster that has never been seen.Don’t we all experience this?Isn’t “oneself” something that it seems we can never grasp?

Couldn’t we say therefore, that in reality, isn’t “oneself”-which is a lump of discomforts- the closest “other” around?When I observe my impulses that come from deep within, I realize that the desire to meet others translates into a desire to “know myself.”I believe that the existence that causes the most discomfort and jostles me the most, the number one “other” is in fact me myself.

I am sure there are some among you who have read this and have formed a huge question mark in your head.In order to change oneself, one meets others.And that other which one seeks is actually oneself.So what happens to the “self” that meets the “self”?Wouldn’t one change?

That is precisely what I believe will happen.The deeper one seeks self-knowledge, the more one changes.Therefore, one will never be able to grasp oneself. I do not find this meaningless.In fact, I would like to achieve the humility which is needed to do this.

There is no me per se.The more one tries to understand oneself, the more obscure it becomes.I now believe that such paradoxes are an integral part of human existence.

(translated by Sayako Ota)