Promotional desiner by Kazuaki Akizawa /  Photo by Tomoaki Makino

Promotional desiner by Kazuaki Akizawa / Photo by Tomoaki Makino

A new play from Germany depicting desperate love and life under socialism
Translated and directed by Yuna Koyama
Featuring a talented cast including Kenji Urai, Oshiro Maeda, Natsumi Okamoto, and Saki Takaoka
Performing at Setagaya Public Theatre (SePT) and on tour in Nagoya and Hyogo!

SePT is proud to present the Time to Love, Time to Die (original title:ZEIT ZU LIEBEN ZEIT ZU STERBEN) , a tale about young people in love, set during an era when it seemed as if East Germany’s socialist government would last forever. This play is directed and translated by Yuna Koyama, who has done brilliant work in recent years staging translations of plays from Germany, where she was born and raised.

In addition to performing at SePT, this play is scheduled to perform on tour in Nagoya and Hyogo prefectures.

As a result of the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic, there are many people who feel trapped and claustrophobic as they go about their daily lives. Time to Love, Time to Die is the perfect play for this pandemic era. Through an exploration of the universal theme of love, this play depicts characters who at times struggle against and at times accept their reality. This depiction becomes even more clear when viewed through the lens of our daily lives during Covid-19. Don’t miss it!

Time to Love, Time to Die is a play in three acts. Watching this talented cast play multiple characters of different ages and backgrounds across all three acts is one of the highlights of this performance.

Kenji Urai takes on the play’s lead role. He has appeared in musicals, in straight plays, and on television, where his reliable acting skills have been on display across a wide variety of performances. His has previously appeared at SePT in Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida (directed by Hitoshi Uyama). In that production, he played the role of Troilus, the Trojan prince whose life is transformed by war. He also appeared at SePT as the title character of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt (directed by Jungung Yang), delivering a delicate performance of Peer’s journey wandering from place to place in search of happiness. Time to Love, Time to Die will be Urai’s first ever performance at SePT’s Theatre Tram. This play contains some musical elements, and so it will give audiences a chance to hear Urai sing, too.

Saki Takaoka will play multiple roles, ranging from a lover to a mother. Previously, Takaoka captivated audiences with her thoughtful acting style and elegant stage presence in the role of Mrs. Kendal in The Elephant Man (directed by Shintaro Mori), a collaborative production between SePT and The Globe Tokyo. Everyone is excited to see how Takaoka will employ her range as an actor to portray different types of femininity in Time to Love, Time to Die.

This will be Oshiro Maeda’s first performance at Theatre Tram. Maeda began his career as a child actor, and he was once part of a comedy duo with his brother. Hot off the heels of Maeda’s appearance on the NHK drama Ochoyan, this will be his first opportunity to act in an intimate performance space with a seating capacity of only 200.

This production also includes: Yu Koyanagi, who made waves with his exhilarating performances in every installment of Wajdi Mouawad’s The Blood of Promises quartet at SePT (Scorched, Tideline, and Forests); Akinobu Shinoyama, appearing once again in a Yuna Koyama production after previous roles in Tschick (2017 and 2019) and Pictures of Your True Love (2018); Natsumi Okamoto, who began her career as a model and now is making her first appearance at Theatre Tram after a number of high profile performances on stage and screen in recent years; and Kaoru Yamazaki, known for her skill as an up-and-coming working actress.

Under the direction of Yuna Koyama, this cast of seven top-notch actors will bring to life a human drama that explores the theme of love.


About the play

Time to Love, Time to Die is a three act play by German author Fritz Kater. It is inspired by films such as Time Stands Still (1981, made in Hungary, directed by Péter Gothár) and A Time to Love and a Time to Die (1958, based on a novel by Erich Maria Remarque, directed by Douglas Sirk). Kater was born and raised in East Germany, but he moved to West Germany as an adult. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Kater returned to Berlin, where he worked as an author. Drawing on his own experience spending his youth living under the East German socialist government, Kater sets Time to Love, Time to Die against the backdrop of the suffocating daily life in East Germany. It was a time filled with anti-government demonstrations and people attempting to flee to West Germany. At times comical, at times deadly serious, and at times melancholic, Time to Love, Time to Die is a play that portrays universal human emotions.

Translation and direction will be helmed by Yuna Koyama, who was born and raised in Germany. After directing with Neo Littérature Théâtre, Koyama went on to create theatre across a wide range of genres, including modern drama, staged readings, and musicals. This is her third production as a director at SePT, following Tschick and the staged reading Pictures of Your True Love. After receiving numerous theatre awards for Tschick, Koyama went on to gain experience directing plays from many genres. Now, this production is Koyama’s long-awaited return to SePT.

Kazuki Kunihiro will compose and perform music for this production. He has previously created music to complement another production directed by Yuna Koyama, Pictures of Your True Love. Additionally, he composed music for productions including Scorched, Tideline, and Forests from The Blood of Promises quartet. For Time to Love, Time to Die, Kunihiro is composing so much original music that the first half of this production is essentially transformed into a Japan exclusive piece of music theatre. You won’t want to miss Kunihiro’s collaboration with veteran musical actor Kenji Urai!

Time to Love, Time to Die is composed of three parallel stories. However, this production creates a structure that resembles the passage of time in one person’s life by casting Kenji Urai in three distinct roles: a young man in the middle of an aimless youth; a man just past youth who can see he is on a crash course with reality; and an older man looking for a chance to start his life over.



Act 1

It is East Berlin, before German reunification. The act depicts the typical and uneventful daily lives of young people living under socialism. The struggles of youth are the same on either side of the wall. There is no end to their conflicted feelings as they grapple with the problems of life and love. And then, one day, their youth is already over, in the blink of an eye.

Act 2

A wife and her young children are left behind in East Germany by her husband, who fled to the west. The years pass. The mother and her two sons, now in their late teens, are still living in East Germany. One day, their Uncle Breuer, who once was an an-establishment hero, is released from jail. Now, his advice to young people is, “Don’t stand out. Don’t act like a hero. Just get in line and do the same thing as everyone else.” No hint of his former self remains. However, Breuer begins to suddenly get closer and closer to the brothers’ mother. Then, the brothers encounter a certain woman who begins to come between them. The younger brother is infatuated with her, but then, one day, he discovers that she is already dating his older brother. After experiencing love and rejection time after time, the two brothers approach adulthood after an adolescence that did not go according to plan. Their mother’s relationship with Breuer continues. And then, one day…

Act 3

A man is living alone in a new place, after he is forced to move away from his wife and children for work. His life there is uneventful. Then, one day, he meets a woman who works at a cafeteria. The two of them quickly fall in love. They travel together, they fight, and they make amends. Eventually, the man at last resolves to end off his relationship with his wife. And then, his lover does something unexpected…


Cast & Creative

Written by Fritz Kater
Translated & Directed by Yuna Koyama
Music & Performed by  Kazuki Kunihiro
Kenji Urai /
Oshiro Maeda, Yu Koyanagi, Akinobu Shinoyama /
Natsumi Okamoto, Kaoru Yamazaki /
Saki Takaoka


◎= Post-performance talk will be held.※Holders of tickets for the performance may attend.

△=Cameras will be installed in the audience area for recording purposes.


Audience Support

Childcare Service

A childcare service is normally available for performances staged at Setagaya Public Theatre and Theatre Tram for which advance tickets are sold.

Charge: ¥2,200 per child
Eligibility: Children aged over 6 months and up to 9 years of age
Applications: Tel. 03-5432-1526 Setagaya Public Theatre
You may reserve childcare services up to noon of the day 3 days before the desired reservation time, but when the number of children registered reaches capacity, applications will closed. So please make your reservation well in advance. Also, please consult with the theatre regarding children with special needs.
Subcontractor: Kids’ Room Tinker bell Sancha

Wheelchair Spaces

Both Setagaya Public Theatre and Theatre Tram are equipped with wheelchair spaces to allow visitors to watch performances from their wheelchairs. However, as capacity is limited, use of wheelchair spaces is by reservation only.

Charge: 10% discount on the corresponding area ticket charge (plus up to one attendant free of charge)
Applications: Tel. 03-5432-1515 Theatre Ticket Centre

Wheelchair spaces may be reserved up to 19:00 on the day before the desired date, but when the number of reservations reaches capacity, applications will be closed. So please make your reservation well in advance.