Daichi Nakamura / Shuntaro Matsubara
“Keep Your Front Up"


Photo: Taro Motofuji
“And that’s why this country only has a single road.” Experience as a group the pervasive energy of
Matsubara’s play.

Shuntaro Matsubara is the up-and-coming playwright who won the 63rd Kishida Prize for Drama, shocking both supporters and detractors across the theater world. “Stop. Let’s talk for a second. We’ve entered the 21st century, and we’ve turned into a mob all fleeing in one direction.” So begins Keep Your Front Up, which takes Bertolt Brecht’s unfinished play Downfall of the Egotist Johann Fatzer as its motif. It is the story of four out-of-place dead people who continue directly ahead down a single road. A variety of people emerge in front of them: the gatekeeper and secretary guarding the gates of law, workers, vacationers on a girls’ trip, marauders…the road begins to buckle under their weight. Where does it truly lead?
Young director Daichi Nakamura, who engages in contemplation between Tohoku and Tokyo, redirects the bold energy emitted from this play through the voices of contemporary audiences and toward a collective experience. Here we find a grand narrative/history of wars and earthquakes, the setbacks of democracy ̶ haunting us like ghosts along this road that lies in the gap between past and present, this world and the next. What kind of shock and transformation will “our” minds and bodies undergo when continually infused with these words?

Reading Performance

Tokyo, 2020. An aphrodisiac splashes into our day- to-day routines, creating a ripple effect across the city ̶ someone reads aloud from a script in Reading Performances.

Reading a script aloud is theater’s most basic activity, accessible to all ̶ not only actors. There are, however, surprisingly few people who have actually read an entire play out loud from beginning to end. If one were to do so now, then ̶ somewhere in Tokyo as it awaits the Olympics ̶ where should one read and whose words should one choose?
We posed this question to two directors. In this series, which is titled Reading Performances, cold readings of the plays two directors have proposed will be held in specific locations by a variety of participants: no special preparations, no rehearsals, thrown together randomly, just reading aloud from the words in the script. Written
in the past, how will these words be transformed in the here and now by passing through the bodies of those who live in Tokyo in 2020? The times and places selected for these modest readings will figure as aphrodisiacs, creating ripple effects in the city’s day-to-day routines.


Daichi Nakamura
Born in 1991 in Tokyo, Daichi Nakamura is a playwright and theater director. He graduated from the Department of Literature at Tohoku University. During his studies, he started the theater group Yaneura Heights and lived and worked in Sendai for eight years until moving to Tokyo in 2018. His work aims to create useful theater that provides the necessary tools for survival. He recently received the 2nd Ningen-za Tabata Minoru Prize for Drama for his latest work Koko wa deguchi dewa nai (This Is Not an Exit). For the 2019 Toga Theater Competition, he won the Audience Award and first place for Excellence in Direction Award for directing Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard.

Photo: Taro Motofuji

Shuntaro Matsubara
Born in 1988 in Kumamoto Prefecture, Shuntaro Matsubara is a playwright. He graduated from the Department of Economics at Kobe University. In 2015, he won the 15th Aichi Arts Foundation Drama Award for his first play Michiyuki (En Route). In 2019, he received the 63rd Kishida Kunio Drama Award for YAMAYAMA (I Would Prefer Not To). His major works include Wasureru Nihonjin (The Japanese, Who Forget), Shoumen ni kiwotukero (Keep Your Front Up), and Sasayakanasa (Modest Difference). He is a 2019 Junior Fellow of The Saison Foundation.


March 5th [Thu] / 16:00
*Talk (after the performance), Guest|Shuntaro Matsubara
March 6th [Fri] / 13:00
March 8th [Sun] / 15:00

Performance times

approx. 120 min.


Each performance is limited to 20 people (exceptions for special cases aside, everyone present will be given part of the play to read)


Keio University Mita Campus,
Ex Noguchi Room

2-15-45 Mita, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8345

How to Participate

Booking essential. Show general admission pass on entry.
Buy Pass




Concept and Direction|Daichi Nakamura
Written by Shuntaro Matsubara
Co-organized by Keio University Art Center