I met Yu first when I worked in Vancouver for the PuSh Festival, and later in New York City, where I was witness to one of the most bizarre, funny, unique, and inspired pieces of contemporary performance I have ever seen: “Romeo and Toilet“. Yu is the artistic director of Kaimaku Pennant Race, and I believe he is one of the most important figures in contemporary Japanese theatre today.
- Believe one’s body: as to physical privilege, there is only your body which can be guaranteed in any case, and at the same time which can also maximize yourself. That is what I’ve been telling my actors. Thus, even after this great disaster I believe that it is still the same, only the strong body can keep the strong mental, and can get over a hard time.
- Sending out physical energies: communications only through electronic displays are now prevailing in this modern society. In such a society, I think that going to the theater is a very aggressive action. What is those audiences’ purpose of going to theaters having some physical burden? They want to feel physical energies from actors there.
- Always sense the possibilities, keep believing an idea: we, all of us, have infinite possibilities. If you understand yourself and the world very deeply, you can bring your infinite possibilities with just one idea. I hope that many ideas are going to the devastated areas in Japan right now.
- Value traditions: we had many reviews from various media including the New York Times when we played our “ROMEO and TOILET” in New York in 2009. The reviews were for the total history of our theatrical plays such as Noh play and Kabuki, we are only a part of that history. I value those traditions.
- See the world: my company “Kaimaku Pennant race” is aiming at the performance which can get over language borders. Thus, our performance should be always estimated with the global level. We need to watch carefully the international performance scenes because they are changing dramatically at all times.
- Having your home country: while we look overseas, at the same time, we also always tell ourselves that we are Japanese. Through our first performance in New York, we’ve noticed again that our bodies are worth study, which is very Japanese, much influenced by Japanese culture.
- Creating and destroying: theater play is repetition of creating and destroying things. We create a work and destroy it, and develop it. Then, it’ll get better and better, but there are no final answers, there is only a time schedule of a theater. We repeat creating and destroying until the curtain opens. We set up and strike our stage every time; that is also a sort of creating and destroying.
- Theater play is a mirror of society: I can put that above “Creating and destroying” into our current situation after the devastating disaster in Japan. After being destroyed, we are surely going toward the new creation. Then, what we can do as artists?
- Noticing something from the present: what you see at the theater is what you notice on the stage. Notices of writer, director and actor. Audiences who can notice something on the stage are those who really enjoy the play. It’s the same when we are in our daily lives.
- Searching one step ahead: I think that after understanding the current situation, we should find something for the next step. Creating an idea is our role as an artist.
Finally, I’d like to thank Josh, who gave me such an opportunity to
think about what I can do as a performer after the disaster.