The man who turned into a stick

by Kobo Abe

Under the title The Man Who Turned into a Stick are united three one-act plays by Kobo Abe, originally written at different times over the space of around twelve years. The only explanation Kobo Abe has given is that the three plays symbolize “Birth,” “Process” and “Death,” and he has specifically indicated that the same actor should play the part of a suitcase in the first, a boxer in the second and a stick in the third.

It is clear that for Kobo Abe a deep meaning is hidden in the three plays that ought to appear on the surface, but he has given no further explanations in order to leave different possibilities of interpretationopen.

Kobo Abe (Tokyo 1924-93) was a novelist and playwright. After a childhood spent in Manchuria, he went to university to study medicine. Almost the same age as Mishima, he is one of the most important contemporary Japanese writers and a leading exponent of Japanese modernism. His The Woman in the Dunes earned him international fame. It was made into a film of the same name by Hiroshi Teshigawara. Kobo Abe was nominated for the Nobel Prize. He founded and directed the Kobo Abe Studio theater company in Tokyo with which Kuniaki Ida worked for six years before coming to Europe.