SEPTEMBER 26 - 29, 2019

The Lighthouse at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival

The Lighthouse

by Yukio Mishima

Unspoken desire suddenly breaks the surface of a post-war family's placid life in Mishima's passionate drama from 1949, produced in a new English-language translation.
directed by Benny Sato Ambush


Ticket sales begin June 1

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Fresh home from war, 25-year-old Noboru meets Isako, an attractive 30-year-old woman who has just married Noburu’s recently widowed father.

Noboru and Isako's silent shared attraction flows beneath the surface. But a close-quarters vacation to a resort island near Tokyo ruptures their pact, casting the whole family into dangerous waters. Noboru’s teenage sister Masako bears witness, and is forced to find her way from innocence into the world of adults.

The Festival presents The Lighthouse in a new English translation by Mishima scholar Laurence Kominz, in collaboration with acclaimed director Benny Sato Ambush.

Adapted from Jean Racine’s 17th-century tragedy Phèdre -- itself a retelling of the story of Phaedra from Greek mythology -- The Lighthouse is one of Mishima’s most frequently performed one-act plays in Japan. The 1949 play is written as shingeki, a Japanese theater form based on modern realism.

“There is a strong subterranean undercurrent of repressed sexuality bursting at the seams throughout the play,” says Ambush. “It is heavy in the spring air, all that yearning and wanting and desire ... Williams and Chekhov would be proud.”


This production is part of the upcoming 2019 festival in September. The full season will be announced on the evening of June 1, at which point ticket sales begin online and by phone. Seating is limited, and shows will sell out. Buy a Festival Pass now and guarantee a seat at your shows.

About the Play

In the introduction to his English-language translation of The Lighthouse, Mishima scholar Laurence Kominz writes that it was one of the most frequently performed one-act plays during Mishima’s lifetime by professional companies in Japan.

Mishima wrote the play upon returning from a vacation to Oshima Island in March 1949, calling it "a joy to write." In program notes from the play's first production, Mishima explained that he created the characters partly from sketches of the guests at his hotel. It is possible that Mishima also found inspiration for the teenage character of Masako in his own sister, whom Mishima cared for during a terminal illness four years earlier.

"The Lighthouse is a shingeki play that brings the incest theme of Racine's Phèdre to the modern Japanese stage," Kominz writes. "The Lighthouse was Mishima's second play to be published and performed. A company of young actors that did new works presented The Lighthouse in November of 1949, and in early 1950 Mishima directed the play himself at the prestigious Haiyu-za for his debut as a stage director."

Through one interpretation of the play, Kominz writes, "we witness the incestuous obsessions that led to murder and sui­cide in Phaedra, burning just as intensely in the hearts of contemporary upper middle-class Japanese. These passions can still destroy families and individu­als, but perhaps in not so dramatic a fashion as in the classical age."

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