SEPTEMBER 24 - 27, 2020

The Lighthouse at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival

The Lighthouse

by Yukio Mishima

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

Produced by Marissa Carpio

New York, NY


This event was presented Sept 26-29, 2019
NOTE: For this site-specific production, patrons will be seated upon arrival.
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Fresh out of the Japanese navy in American-occupied Japan, 25-year-old Noboru was startled when he first met Isako, the attractive 30-year-old woman who married his widowed father.

Since then, Noboru and Isako's silent attraction to each other has simmered beneath the surface. A close-quarters vacation to Oshima Island south of 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. This will be the English translation’s first production.

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 a 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.”


  • Yoshiro Kono as YUKICHI
  • Lya Yanne as ISAKO
  • Sam Hamashima* as NOBORU
  • Haley Sakamoto* as MASAKO
  • Natsuko Hirano* as JUNKO

* Appearing courtesy of Actors' Equity


Always purchase tickets in advance.
Tickets are not available for sale at the show venues. Purchase tickets online up to two hours before showtime, or in-person at our box office (368-B Commercial Street) or festival shirt shop (336 Commercial Street).


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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