The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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‘Hinemi’ highlights traveling through memory and time

All memories begin and end in a particular time and place. Miyazawa Akio’s play, “Hinemi,” dispels this notion when he transcends those memories into a place where time is ever shifting and fluid.

Hinemi is an abstract connotation of time, an element that can become overwhelming and difficult to follow initially during the performance. Even the word Hinemi has no symbolic meaning except that it is the name of a fictional Japanese place.

We meet the protagonist, Satake Kenji, as a child in his family’s home in his native Hinemi. Kenji was played by Martha Escobar. Kenji is the younger brother to Gen’ichiro, as played by Kevin Herrera. Herrera gives a convincing performance of an older brother, who at times is annoyed with Kenji. Their relationship is nothing out of the ordinary, but proves to be the factor that defines adult Kenji’s identity.

The supporting characters all encounter everyday problems that include sibling rivalry, meddling neighbors and economic instability. One of the two unusual characters of the play included Nishikawa, as played by Brian Hand. Nishikawa was depicted as a rat catcher who had a southern accent with a demeanor reminiscent of Jethro from the “Beverly Hills Hill Billies” fame. Hand-performance style was unusual in the context of the play setting, but was amusing when done well.

Another unusual character was the annoying, harmonica-playing neighbor, Mr. Satsumori, played by Wunna Myothein. Myothein’s performance was responsible for much of the play’s laughter, with his random phrases and gestures.

The emphasis of memories and how it develops identity is evident in Satake Kenji’s reconstruction of Hinemi through a map drawing. The more he adds to the map, the more he remembers of a time long forgotten to him. In fact, adult Satake Kenji played by Kotarih Zushi, is introduced to the audience when he arrives to the Kurahashi home in Shingalore City and is searching for more information about Hinemi, a town that no longer exists.

Shingalore City becomes the location where time converges, as experienced when adult Kenji and child Kenji meet and discuss the map of the Hinemi. This scene proves to be the pivotal moment but is overshadowed by the abrupt transition to another scene. The office scene offers another location and time, and once again finds adult Kenji drawing a map.

The climax of the play is found when Adult Kenji drinks an elixir that conjures up a memory he had long forgotten. During this time, he travels to a forest that exists in dreams, and remembers an event that changes the course of his life.

In this forest, he recounts the events leading up to the death of Gen’ichiro, when Kenji was just a child. During this dream sequence, we learn why Kenji had forgotten the past. He says when his brother died, he felt a little happy. The guilt he felt for not having remorse or sadness was the purpose of drawing the Hinemi map. The scene ends abruptly and its themes are not developed any further. The performance ends where it began in the fictional Hinemi and in Kenji’s home, where his mother awaits her son’s return.

Filter through the obscure style and structure that is an Akio play, and you will discover a story that the average person can relate to and understand. Death is the ultimate hidden theme, which finally sheds light on the emphasis of time in the structuring of the play.

The last showing of “Hinemi” by the California State University, Northridge Department of Theater was performed in front of a sold out crowd. A few minutes before the performance, a few individuals found themselves disappointed when the box office sold out of tickets. For the individuals lucky enough to secure a seat, the studio theater provided an intimate setting with the chairs arranged in a circular fashion facing the performers.

The performers were located one step below the front row seats, an element that became useful when the time element was presented. The background scenery and props were of the barest form, with three prop fixtures representing a couch, table and desk. The bareness and bland style of the props were an advantage when time, location and characters collided in one of four locations or time spans.

“Hinemi” was a play that took a while to register theme and plot, but once developed, the audience was fixated on discovering the purpose of the map and the element of time. The two last scenes were somewhat like a cliff-hanger, where you were left wondering how adult Kenji’s unraveling of his memories changed him.

The second question that needed to be answered was what happened to child Kenji and his family after Gen’ichiro’s death. Despite a few unanswered questions, Hinemi still provided a sense of closure to a story that journeyed through time to end where it started.

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