Before and after the Dream

The enjoyable emptiness

All performances of “Kurotokage (Black Lizard)” finished on February 5. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who came to see the play, and all the people who kindly delivered flowers, sweets, box lunches, and a variety of other gifts.

After my previous play, the “The Hunting Gun,” I had actually vowed never to act on stage, so I never thought the day would come when I would perform once again on stage.

I was given the chance to see outstanding plays both in Japan and overseas, and because they had become my de facto standard, I found that every time I became involved in a play it was physically, psychologically, timewise and economically taxing on me. This is why I had thought I would never be able act in a play again. However, thanks to Yuko Murata of the Umeda Arts Theater, I was given a rare opportunity to perform in Yukio Mishima’s masterpiece under the direction of David Leveaux. I was involuntarily drawn to the play, but in the end, I found myself once more, struggling every day with the beautiful words in my effort to take flight. But this journey was unexpectedly warm and comfortable. It almost felt as if I was climbing the high mountains of the Himalayas with the full support of Sherpas,who would supply me with oxygen, food, and pander to my every whim, allowing me to reach the summit effortlessly. It was all thanks to David Leveaux’s expert direction, who imparted his love equally on all performers, taking care not to pressure them more than was necessary,and directing everyone with care and sensitivity as if nurturing a baby. This led to the forming of a sense of solidarity among everyone in working toward a common goal.

Yoshio Inoue was like a climbing partner to whom I could entrust my life, with his reliable acting propped up by experience and effort, and his ever-so expressive voice. He offered me constant reassurance with his ability to cover up all my mistakes and anxieties. Despite acting on stage year round, he refuses to become complacent, continuing to take on new challenges all the time. I have nothing but the deepest respect for his attitude of staying on his toes.

Itsuki Sagara had a calm and charming air about her that was beyond her years, which worked to her advantage regardless of whether she was playing the innocent Sanae, or Sanae’s substitute, and I was made to realize day after day that Mishima’s character could not be played by just any young actress. Her voice made my heart race as she talked about love with the slave, Amamiya, in the scene where they were locked up in a cage, and I too was saved many times by her acting and overflowing maternal instincts.

Hikaru Asami had refined techniques and instincts, while never bragging about it as she demonstrated dependability in acting the part of a housemaid by the name of Mrs. Hina. But upon discarding her disguise to show her true self as Aoi-Kame, Kurotokage’s servant, she showed her loyalty and deep love for Kurotokage like a member of some religious organization with blind faith for their leader. After Kurotokage’s death, the sight of Aoi-Kame’s dancing as she departed was filled with sorrow, leaving a lasting impression on me.

Taka Takao’s insights and love for literature were particularly worthy of note. He was able to play the part of the jeweler, Shobei Iwase, with great humor thanks to having read Yukio Mishima and Junichiro Tanizaki novels in his younger days as substitutes for erotic novels, resulting in his great respect for Mishima’s words. Despite having lived his life on stage, it was truly enlightening to learn that he still finds himself nervous before every performance.

Songha’s gushing passion and phantasmagorical acting added a dash of color to this play despite his appearances on stage being brief. It was as if he was born to be an actor, because he had everything that I lacked as an actress. He was my diametric opposite for which I envied him, but he also made me realize my limitations. Only he could have acted out Amamiya’s perverted, pathetic character without a moment of hesitation.

Moreover, the exceptional teamwork among the people of the ensemble was almost beyond my imagination. This was due to their irrefutable capabilities, and not one of them showed any sign of dissatisfaction or discontent as they placed their trust in Mr. Leveaux’s direction and devoted themselves to the play.

The two dancers too, who played the dwarves, had a dramatic influence on me. Every move they made seemed like metaphors reflecting Kurotokage’s inner self. I felt so envious of Nozomi Matsuo and Shino Komatsu’s ability to express themselves so dynamically without having to utter a single word.

And of course, a vital part of creating the atmosphere during the play was the tango-based live performance put on by Black & Shadows led by the composer, Keita Egusa. Thanks to the band members who immersed themselves in the play to convey our emotions through music, the poetic words of Mishima, believed to be difficult to interpret, were made more accessible.

Incidentally, all the basic skin care products and foundation I used on stage, as well as my lipstick and mascara were TV&MOVIE products. I used an eyeliner of another company on purpose so that it would run with the tears of Kurotokage, but the beauty lotion-like mascara, made using generous amounts of manuka honey and horse placenta extract stayed on beautifully, making my eyelashes radiate out from my eyes even when they became wet from my tears. My lashes retained both their length and volume!

Our final performance was held at the Umeda Arts Theater in Osaka, and we all disbanded to once again go our separate ways, wrenching us out of the dream-like world depicted by Yukio Mishima, and returning us to the real world.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the staff members, the cast and the audience for their support during performances of “Kurotokage.”

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