Theatre Replacement: Ichiro, Brad Pitt's answer to Japan* <font size=2>by Kamla Hurst</font> Feb 23, 2007
by Kamla Hurst
What do you associate with the words sex and Japan? Huge, loose socks; soap; a baseball bat – do these images pop up? Theatre Replacement's "Sexual Practices of the Japanese," illuminates both why these are erotic touchstones of Japanese life, as well as the attitudes and perceptions of gender that animate these objects. Through a litany of alternately amusing and troubling scenes, Theatre Replacement examines the daily humiliations and power plays Japanese women experience as they alternately compete for and retreat from the attentions of men. Male dominance is reinforced by the innovative staging featuring a line of power suits. While the suits also recall the stereotype of Japanese uniformity, the play explores how Japanese males seek to assert their individuality through sexual practices that are predicated on women’s domination. And yet, these sexual variations, or deviations, become almost as uniform as the ubiquitous salarymen. The female actors also put on power suits, (or puppeteer the suits) and accept work that has them photocopying their boss’s presentations though they are trained engineers, which suggest that men are not solely to blame for a society that places women in “sexual and domestic servitude. ” However, the onus seems to rest with men (who are clearly in charge) to pay more attention to the intellectual capabilities of their female counterparts. While inequality on the basis of sex is a reality of women's lives all over the world, Japan’s sex industry is taken to task for scripting scenarios that put men in control both in and out of the board/bedroom. While the stories take place in Japan, I found myself looking for some insights into what it means to be Japanese-Canadian? How do the sexual practices of an island nation play out in North America? What happens in the transference of cultural and sexual attitudes when they migrate from one place to another? *Disclaimer: Ichiro is nowhere discussed in this blog.