Multi-role playing on stage (and off) with Nomo Gakuji
Our cast have come from far and wide to be in Harajuku Girls.
Nomo Gakuji is from Tokyo. And when he’s not on stage with us, he’s a lawyer and father of four. We caught him up with him recently…
What attracted you to this play?
I like that it presents an ‘outsider’s view’ of Japan, being written by Francis who is half-Japanese, half-Northern Irish. I think it has a really neat way of grasping some of the truths and problems in Japanese society that Japanese people can’t necessarily pick up on.
Who do you play?
I play two roles. Mr Okada, Mari’s father who works hard to support his family but struggles to connect with them. And Mr Chiba, whom Mari enters a ‘compensated relationship’ with.
I like the interesting contrast between the two characters. Mr Okada who’s relatively successful in terms of social standing, but is isolated from this family. Mr Chiba, in the opposite way, has lost everything but I can still see some kind of hope in him. He’s afraid of dying alone, and still wants true love.
And how true to life are these characters?
Many Japanese middle aged salarymen have that sense of isolation in family and in society. But I’m not sure how many Japanese people are consciously aware of that.
You’re a father of four yourself. Any shades of your children in our three Harajuku Girls?
I can see some of my daughters getting in the same kind of trouble. In the past, a good school and good university led to a good life. Now the younger generation in Japan is having a hard time seeing their future. They’re eager to find role models, but adults themselves are losing their identity and authority in society.
You’re a lawyer back in Japan. How do you juggle such contrasting jobs?
I’m doing alright so far. The company I work for understands my acting commitments – they’re okay with it.
I don’t see the two as being so different. As a lawyer, you need to watch people. Know people. That helps with understanding your characters an actor.
What do you like about being in London?
In Japan, everyone is mostly the same. I like the fact that in London, you get to meet many different people. Nobody cares how everyone else looks. You’re more tolerant in a way.
People appreciate the arts here. I wish more people in Japan would as well. And I also like spending time at the National Gallery and the British Museum.
What I dislike? There’s nothing to dislike!
What’s your next project going to be?
I start shooting a Japanese law drama in April. And I also have go back to being an actual lawyer too.
I’d love to do more theatre in Japan so that’s something I’m working towards.