Backstage with Sadao Ueda
We sat down for ten minutes with Harajuku Girls star Sadao Ueda as he took time out from preparing for the play.
Can you tell us more about the characters you play?
I play 3 different characters, Panty Shop Owner, who sells used girls’ underwear and uniforms, Mr. Narita, a married businessman who is having an affair with Keiko, and Mr. Nakamura, a regular customer of House of Red Leaves.
People may think Panty Shop Owner is most perverted amongst 3, but on the contrary he is the most normal person, in my view. He just knows what perverted men want and took the opportunity to make business out of it. I don’t think he himself is into what he is selling.
Mr. Narita is under pressure in his real life, and enjoys the escape from it in Keiko.
Mr. Nakamura is a power freak, realising his fantasy in the image club, but in his real life, he has no authority.
And in your own words, what do you think the play is about? What attracted you to it?
It is about the relationships between 3 teenage girls and their parents, and also their struggle in growing out from teenage dream to facing the reality of the society with only a hint of hope in the future. I found it simply challenging to portray 3 different characters, the type I have never done before. Unlike other characters, my 3 characters do not grow in the play and we only see the fragments of them. It’s attracting to give depth to the character using my creativity.
Mr Nakamura is a pretty perverted guy. Did you do anything special to get into character?
I didn’t do anything special. Although what he does is pretty perverted, I do not think he is different to majority of people. Any of us have our fantasies, secrets which we are too embarrassed to tell. The difference is either it stays as fantasy or you actually do it. In his case, he does so in safe environment. He pays for it, so he has every right to do so. When I become Mr. Nakamura in the image club, I try to believe the role play situation is a real thing, and not fantasy. The difficult bit was when the real Nakamura comes out in very brief moments.
Harajuku Girls explores the fantasy of dress up and role play. What’s the craziest costume you’ve ever worn?
I had to become Pigsy from Monkey in a TV commercial.
Why should people come to watch Harajuku Girls?
It represents the bizarre side of modern Japanese pop culture which can puzzle you a bit, but it also shows the universal value of human nature underneath.
The Japanese are taught it’s beautiful and polite not to show emotion, but this play shows the Japanese do have emotion and are not so different to other nations.