The 10 Selected Productions

The Vacuum Cleaner

By Toshiki Okada
From the Japanese by Andreas Regelsberger

Münchner Kammerspiele

World premiere 12 December 2019

Toshiki Okada examines the phenomenon of “hikikomori”. The term describes people who are so afflicted by acute social and capitalist pressures that they no longer leave their homes.

The Vacuum Cleaner

The Vacuum Cleaner. Damian Rebgetz, Thomas Hauser, Annette Paulmann, Walter Hess, Julia Windischbauer

© Julian Baumann

  • 1 h 40 min, without interval

Homare is a “hikikomori”: She has withdrawn from society and hardly ever leaves her room. What does her life under one roof with her 80-year-old father, her brother and his ex-colleague from the Amazon warehouse look like? Toshiki Okada carefully examines a social phenomenon of today’s Japanese society. His distinctive movement vocabulary runs asynchronously with the text and is not only fascinating to look at, but also sets the internal and external realities of his characters into a peculiar relationship with each other.

Statement of the Jury

Saturated, ageing high civilisations (in this case Japan’s) invariably claim some victims. The point of departure for Toshiki Okada’s work is a female hikikomori who is fifty years old and lives a life of social apathy in her eighty-year-old father’s house. She is watched, among others, by the eponymous vacuum cleaner that introduces itself from a floor- and dust-oriented perspective: “I’m the type who is more interested in the lower regions.” A grown-up son also lives with the father and daughter. Because he is secretly unemployed, he has a lot of time on his hands and loiters in parks and malls during the day. His new friend, who quit his job with Amazon after four days because he couldn’t stand the shitty work, is also part of the living arrangements. It’s a panorama including a bubble of affluence, social phobia, average working lives, lacking prospects, depression and McJob-misery. The performers’ gestures are always a little out of sync, following and enlarging what is said and felt: Blossoms of decay somewhere between being remotely controlled by society and the remains of one’s own agency.


Director Toshiki Okada
Stage Design Dominic Huber
Costume Design Tutia Schaad
Music Kazuhisa Uchihashi
Lighting Design Pit Schultheiss
Dramaturgy Tarun Kade, Makiko Yamaguchi

Chôhô Walter Hess
Homare, Chôhô’s daughter Annette Paulmann
Richigi, Chôhô’s son Damian Rebgetz
Hide, Richigi’s friend Thomas Hauser
Deme Julia Windischbauer