Ryo Ikeda

Approaching a new type of theater that reciprocates with reality
Ryo Ikeda of the digital-native generation

Mar. 31, 2023
Ryo Ikeda

Photo: Mari Kawakita

Ryo Ikeda

Born in 1992, Saitama Prefecture. Ikeda is a scriptwriter, playwright, director, visual artist, and actor. He graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts and went on to graduate from the Department of Sculpture in its Graduate School of Fine Art. In 2015, he became a founding member of the creator collective yumei, serving as its representative, writer, director, stage artist and video creator. Ikeda is known for works that take actual personal relationships as starting points from which adjoining spaces and stories are depicted, as with his representative work Aka (Red) in which paintings done by his grandfather are shown and his own father performs with him as an actor duo. While pursuing activities that analyze non-genre multi-faceted creation, Ikeda has also been writing numerous scripts for other theater companies, TV dramas and animated films, music videos and other video works. Among his representative works are Ototoi (Brothers), a play based on Ikeda’s personal experiences of being bullied at school (premiered and re-staged in 2017, and again in 2020); Aka (Red), a play about his family with his own father performing on stage with him (2018); Sugata (Shape) (premiered 2019, re-staged in 2021), among others.

Yu-mei Official Websit

Ryo Ikeda (born 1992) is the playwright and director of “Yumei,” who originally majored in sculpture at an art university and also works on stage design. He has presented works such as Ototoi (premiere: 2017), which is based on his own experience of bullying, and Aka (premiere: 2018), which is a dramatization of his own family story in which his own father appeared as an actor. What is Ikeda’s desire to use his own experiences and the voices of people around him who want to talk about himself as a starting point, and to explore a new type of theater creation that reciprocates with reality?
Interviewer: Kenta Yamazaki

YumeiOtotoi (restage)
(Sep. 8–12, 2017 at ST Spot)

You majored in art at university, as an undergraduate at Tama Art University, and you graduated from the course in sculpture in graduate school at Tokyo University of the Arts. Even now, in parallel with your work in theater and scriptwriting, you make handmade goods such as rings in the form of miniature crystal faucet handles. Were you originally going to pursue a career in sculpture?
Actually, I was originally planning to go to college to compete in track and field. My high school was strong in track and field, and our ekiden (long-distance relay race) team even made it to the Kanto region championships. But my coach was a Spartan type, and I couldn’t progress from there because of a series of injuries from the training. That was frustrating, and I wanted to try at university to compete in the famous Hakone Ekiden. But I also liked art.

To begin with, my grandfather was an art teacher and painter, so I was interested in art. As a hobby, I make a tree using a box of sweets broken into thin pieces. I used to post photos of my work on a website where people who like that kind of thing gathered, which was like a design-specific version of today’s Pixiv online community for artists.

When I was absent from our track and field club due to my injuries, I became absorbed in paper crafts and designs based on my fingers. While many people quit the track and field team because of the overly Spartan routines, I still thought I was right to remain on the team, but when I saw that the people who quit seemed to be having more fun elsewhere, I began to have doubts. So, at university I decided to do art, which I also liked.
Why did you choose sculpture?
Rather than becoming a sculptor, I actually wanted to be a person who carves tombstones. When I was a child, when I was taking a walk with my grandfather, for some reason he showed me a gravestone and told me something like, “When you die, anyone can have such a (great) work left for them.” So, I somehow came to have a love for tombstones.

When I persuaded my parents that I wanted to go to art college, I insisted that tombstones were definitely a part of it. Also, if you could go to an art college and also run in the Hakone Ekiden, that would be amazing. I was able to convince my parents to send me to art college, but in the end, there was no one there who ran track and field (laughs).
What kinds of work did you do at university?
After all, I wanted to carve tombstones, so in the beginning I used stone as my material. The cost of stone as a sculpture material is very high, so I worked hard at part-time jobs in my first year of university. Always closing opened lids of the cosmetics on display, putting stickers on bags of food flowing down a conveyor belt in the cold storage warehouse – I would put one finger straight on the sticker and then stick it on, but the warehouse was so cold that I couldn’t keep it up. I would work eight-hour shifts, all the while being angry, but it was too cold and I’d catch a cold. So, in the end, my part-time job pay would just disappear into medical expenses. I wanted to make that experience into a work, so I expressed my rigid fingers with carvings made of stone, but it didn’t convey what I wanted to say (laughs). The professor told me that the concept was interesting and that it would be better to work with composite materials instead of stone.

One of the part-time jobs I did for a long time was to set up dioramas for museums. For example, when the diorama was to portray the lives of Jomon era people, I took what we called “Green Army” figures of green plastic soldiers and shave them down to look like Jomon people. In such a case, a soldier with a gun would be changed to a Jomon person who is driving a stake into the ground. That was really interesting, and from there, I started using composite materials and images.

The same concept as the finger sculpture was finally recreated with composite materials, and the work also incorporated labor actions, such as providing a handle for the viewer to turn to make the fingers move in the actual work action. We also used scrap materials from dilapidated factories. That display was selected as an excellent work, and that inspired me to go on to graduate school.
Did you do conceptual works in graduate school?
By that time, I was wanting to create characters as well, so I studied under Professor Satoru Kitago in graduate school. Eventually, when I entered graduate school, I became increasingly busy with scriptwriting work, and although I managed to graduate, I couldn’t go to courses at the university often.
How did you originally get into theater?
The first time I really watched theater seriously was in an art appreciation class in high school. It was a work about the war, but what left an impression on me was more a sense of discontent with the theatrical expression than with the content of the story. I was on the track and field team, so for example, when I saw an actor running on stage, I would tell my friends, “I wish I could run that easily.” I felt uncomfortable with that kind of false portrayal, and made theater feel like something distant for me, or that they were trying to express something without sufficient understanding.

I didn’t become involved in theater really until my third year of university. The drama club said there weren’t enough people to handle the work involved, so I started helping out with set design and props. Since I had experienced doing quite a variety of things in my part-time jobs, I eventually took on the role of stage manager. So, in the end, I ended up writing because I was told something like, “Now that there’s no one to write or direct, why don’t you write it, Ikeda?”
You hadn’t written a script before, had you?
No, I hadn’t. However, I had that experience because I was working part-time to help with courtroom drawings to show the state of the courtroom (where cameras weren’t allowed), and at that time I was also writing manuscripts recording the trial proceedings.

I also wrote what is called “fan fiction” (or fanfic) for anime on the Internet. A stay-at-home friend of mine, who was writing derivative fan fiction based on his favorite anime on the Internet, asked me to help him out when he couldn’t write the next development of a text. The situation was like writing about entering the world of anime and having fun. Rather than anime, it was more like pursuing the “reality” of what would happen if he were to enter the world of anime. I was interested in what he was trying to do, and so I started writing things myself.

Looking back, I actually had been writing things on the anonymous online bulletin board 2channel (2ch) since I was in junior high school. I was born in ‘92, and I spent my junior high and high school years just as the Internet was becoming increasingly active. I was on a channel where people posted “funny flashes,” such as funny animations with outrageous things like Doraemon killing people, and subcultural things that would never be shown on TV reaching children and spreading, and I myself was talking about computers and the Internet news with my friends.

I discovered 2channel when I was in junior high school -- and I think I probably had a history of that left on my computer – and I was particularly shocked when I read a bulletin board for married women. Those married women openly talked about what they thought about their husbands, their mother-in-law, and children, and their grudges, you might say. It seemed to me that it was a world that had lost touch with the TV dramas I usually watched. On the other hand, there were also postings that looked exactly like something my own mother had said. I was curious to see what kind of people were writing those posts.

So, when I wrote, “Why did you get married?” that got a lot of angry reactions. I was caught in a strange code and my IP address was exposed, and that made me think what a scary world it could be. I stayed away from it for a while, but after entering high school, I became interested in it again and started peeking at the entries, and eventually I started writing things to post myself. This time, I pretended to be a housewife and wrote things while thinking about my mother and grandmother. At first, I was told that it was Nekama (*), but I gradually got better at it and stopped getting caught. That’s the original experience of writing words for specific (drama, etc.) characters.

Actually, one of the reasons why I wanted to carve a tombstone was because I started searching for tombstones often when I saw people in their 60s and 70s writing about what they should do about a grave.
Did the first script you wrote in the theater club reflect that background?
No, I wrote that script at the request of the drama club, so I just trying to respond to the request of the club members. At that time, Otonakeikaku (a theater company led by Suzuki Matsuo) was very popular, and they asked me to write something in that kind of style, or something a bit underground. In the end, I wrote a story about a child who was born as a bicycle. It talked about how to raise bicycles, and what might happen if it hung around near other bicycles and someone would accidentally take it away. (laughs).
Were you watching theater at the time?
I wasn’t watching much. I think my friends invited me to watch the “2.5-dimensional” (half-way between 2-D (manga) and 3-D animation) musical The Prince of Tennis and the theater company Shiki’s The Lion King. Since I was at art college, I went to art festivals like the Aichi Triennale and watched performances such as dance and live painting.

Being in such a situation, when I was asked to write an underground-style play, I went to see things done in that style. But I didn’t have any money, so by offering to help with the stage work, I was able to watch things for free. Through that connection, I started helping out as a technical staff member at theater companies other than our drama club, and eventually, when there were not enough actors, they would ask me if I could join in as an actor, and before I knew it, I was performing on stage.
Did that make you want to do theater in earnest?
I had always wanted to become a maker of things in the future, so I was planning to get a full-time job at a company that makes models for museums, which I had long been doing as a part-time job. When I was in my fourth year of university, I happened to see a photo of the stage design used by the theater company Hi-bye (a theater company led by Hideto Iwai) called “Hi-bye Door” on the Internet, and I thought it was very interesting. There was a device that consisted of only a doorknob floating in the air, which led the audience to imagine the stage setting by showing just the doorknob. I like Marcel Duchamp’s work of toilet bowls titled Fontaine, and I thought it was amazing that you could see a different landscape from existing ones, and I thought that “Hi-bye Door” also had that kind of power.

I really wanted to see the real thing, so I went to help with the Hi-bye performance. Anyway, I wanted to see the moment when that door moved, and I watched it wondering when it would come out. In the work The Men that I was helping out on at that time, the “Hi-bye Door” didn’t appear in the end (laughs). That’s how I started helping out at Hi-bye.

Then, in March of the following year, when I was graduating from university, there was a project called “Mie Youth Theater Lab” conducted by Mie Youth and Hi-bye to create theater with members under the age of 25 at Mie Center for the Arts (in Mie Prefecture). Since I was planning to get a job in April, I thought that this would be my last time creating a play, so I decided to participate.

Iwai-san served as a facilitator, and the participants wrote a script based on their own experiences and created a play. That’s where I met actor Yuki Tanaka, with whom I later started the company “Yumei.” After Mie Youth ended, Tanaka-san approached me about wanting to start a theater company, and I started thinking that I could do that while working at another job as well.
So “Yumei” was led by Tanaka-san?
Well, the theater is made with a large number of people, so when something is created by adding things that you had not intended. I think that’s interesting. If you want to show your own creativity alone, you can do sculptures or novels that you create by yourself. That’s why we founded Yumei in 2015, to create something in partnership with Tanaka-san, who said he wanted to work with me.

I also wanted to continue sculpting, so I took the graduate school entrance exam with the intention of taking it like a sort of “commemorative exam,” but I got excepted. So, in the end, I stopped looking for a job and started “Yumei” while going to graduate school.
You also work on scenarios for things such as video/computer games.
Actually, I received the script work from a place that had nothing to do with theater. A screenwriter’s office read what I was writing as fan fiction (fanfic) for an anime and invited me to join their office. That’s why I started receiving work for game scenarios and scripts for anime like Uma Musume (*2) .
The style of “Yumei” that you started with Tanaka-san is strongly influenced by Hi-bye.
Of course, I worked together with Hi-Bye and spent a lot of time there, so I understand that people say that our styles are similar. However, “Yumei” was born from wanting to create something with Tanaka-san and other people who would be involved, so I wasn’t thinking much about my own originality as a creator. In the first place, the fact that I was doing theater was an extension of what I did with the drama club at university, and in that sense, I think that the connection with the university drama club was deeper than that of the Hi-bye.
What kind of works did Yumei create in those early days?
The first work we did was Ore (2015), which was based on the fan fiction (fanfic) story of a 2-D anime. At first, it wasn’t decided that I would be in charge of writing and directing, so if Tanaka-san wanted to write and direct, I said I would be happy to serve as stage director because I had experience in that from our university theater club. I thought it might be a good idea to turn our story into a play as an extension of what I did at Mie Youth, but Tanaka-san said he couldn’t write it, so I was given the job of writing it.

In the early days of “Yumei,” I wrote complete fiction, for example, Kaddon (2015) was a parody of the movie Session with the main character changed to a drummer as a reference to the contents of the game Taiko no Tatsujin. Also, Fes (2016) was about a nude model who never wanted to take off her pants, so I wrote a rather silly story for that.
But in the next work you wrote, Ototoi (2017), was based on your own story. It is a story about the bullying that you experienced when you were in junior high school, and the name of the school and the name of the bully were all real names. It is a unique work that was performed with permission from all the perpetrators who bullied you.
For Ototoi, I originally tried to write a fictional story. But to be honest, when I was preparing for the performance, a shocking incident happened when I met an old bully I knew and I couldn’t help but write about that experience.
From there, many of your works for Yumei became documentary-oriented.
After Ototoi, I did Shime in 2017 (a story about the boys working at a Pink Salon (a prostitution club) predicting the worst future during a break from work), which was not about me, but I wrote the script with the person who was the model for the story. He told me that he wanted his identity to be kept out of the story as much as possible, so we didn’t expose who he was at the time.

When I’m doing this kind of work, I sometimes get emails from people I don’t know at all, saying, “I want to turn my story into a play, so could you use my story for a Yumei play?” When it comes to listening to other people’s stories and turning them into works, I sometimes wondered if it’s alright to do. But I thought that if I worked with the person whose story was used as the model, I could write about it even if it wasn’t about me.

When there are people like that, they will express their opinions not only for the content of the story but also about the stage art, and in that case, it doesn’t feel like I’m directing the work alone. It might be said that the role of directing is to convey words from the people you treat as your subject, and then that becomes my own directing method.
Is the reason why so many of your works are based on your own real-life experiences the fact that you can take responsibility for turning them into works if they are your own stories?
Perhaps. But it is also true that I’m not thinking whether it is okay like that, but I am always thinking about how to do it. Also, just because it’s my story doesn’t mean I’m the only one who appears in the story with a role to play.

When I did Ototoi, there weren’t that many people coming to see our Yumei plays, and it was at that time that I got a good response from the audience for doing works like that. That’s why I thought it would be good to explore that direction as Yumei. On the other hand, I also got the feeling that I was taking advantage of the human tendency to want to watch something like a reality show. I think it’s something different that makes it look like my method. So, all the time I was thinking that if I continued to work that way, there is a great possibility that it would lead me in the wrong direction.

Ototoi is based on my experience of being bullied, and in a sense, it is a work that is in fact accusing the perpetrators through the work. Some of the audience who saw the premiere commented, “What would happen if the perpetrators of bullying committed suicide (as a result of the play)?” I had to think about many things again, but in the end, I decided on the 2020 re-performance to hide the real names of the perpetrators, which had actually appeared the premiere performance.

Personally, I intend to present works of fiction as theater on the stage, but the reality is sometimes judged based only on what is presented in a work. I thought that was dangerous. There are a lot of events that are not depicted in the work, but in the process of putting together a two-hour work, it became a kind of spectacle (of the most painful parts), and the parts depicted from my own perspective inevitably played a larger part. So, after Ototoi, I came to think that it would be better to present how we approached the reality and how it changed us and what happened as a result of what we did, instead of using what actually happened merely as a subject or an audience-gathering device.
In aka (2018), which was labeled as a “Father-son exhibition and performance,” your father also appears in the work. In a sense, it seems that you are increasingly using reality as a subject.
In fact, there was a project prior to aka in which my grandfather’s paintings were exhibited. My grandfather, who was a painter, had in fact asked me to exhibit his paintings before he died, but it turned out to be a difficult thing to do. So, when we talked about whether the Shinjuku Gankagarou gallery could exhibit the paintings, I thought it would be a good idea to hold a performance to show what kind of people were putting on the exhibition and what the family of the painter who painted the paintings was like. Also, my father, who had done theater when he was in college, said he wanted to do it again, so I decided to have him perform in it.

So, I wanted this work to be fictional but based on the stories of myself and my father, and of my father and grandfather, and at the same time, I wanted to make it something like a current documentary of the people performing on stage, or to make the performance become a continuation of what is depicted in the paintings unfolding in reality on the stage. I thought that if I did that, I would be able to create a play in which “the person himself” would play the role as himself.
In 2022’s restaging of aka, which you presented under the title aka aka, did you show further developments of those realities beyond that what had appeared in the original stage?
At first, I was going to reprise aka. However, after I decided to perform it again, we had to get rid of my grandfather’s paintings, so the performance could no longer be just a re-staging of the same work. I also had the option of re-enacting aka depicting additional elements. However, in the face of the reality that the paintings would be disposed of, the idea that what was left behind could go on forever was no longer possible, so I discussed with the (Yumei) members what the new overall theme should be.

Making a play on the premise that paintings would be exhibited and making a play on the premise that the paintings would be disposed of had to make the two completely different works. The house where the paintings were stored had to be taken down due to deterioration and renting a warehouse for storage of the paintings would cost a lot of money. When it came to that, what could we do with the paintings that were left? We created the new work while thinking about what we, the living, should be done with what was left behind after a certain person’s death.
aka aka
aka aka

Yumei aka aka
(May. 28–Jun. 5, 2022 at Kawasaki Art Center-Alterio Small Theater)
Photo: Keita Sasaki

Did staging a work based on your family’s story change your relationship with your family?
My mother came to see Ototoi, and she laughed out loud at the scene of me being bullied. Of course, I wrote it as a funny scene, but for me, I thought, “Can she laugh even though she’s the child’s parent?” When I talked to her later, she told me that it was created as fiction, so she tried to see it as a work of art rather than a real story. Hearing that, I realized that mothers also have perspectives that are not those of mothers. I discovered that changing the way people face each other can change the way they see things, and there was something refreshing about that.

When I was writing, I was motivated by imagining how other people would feel when they saw it. I write because I want to change the consciousness of the other person, or to have them change, but in the end, there are times when it doesn’t change them much. More often than not, I was more likely to notice things that I hadn’t noticed before, than it was to change the consciousness of others.

On the other hand, there are definitely cases of realities changing when you write and perform a work. After Shime, I have been in contact through writing with the person who was the model for it, and with the perpetrators of the bullying depicted in Ototoi, from their perspective, I may have become the perpetrator by writing it, but on the contrary, in this case I was able to deepen my friendship some of them. When my relationship with the people I used as subjects for fiction changed drastically in reality, I began to think again about whether I was able to face them as more than subjects of fiction.
In aka and aka aka, you focused on your father, while in Sugata (Shape) and Musume (Daughter) (2021), the existence of a mother, or your mother, was the center of the story.
The work Sugata was the result of what my mother said after seeing aka, in which my father appeared. She said something like, “I can tell more interesting stories than when you told when only you men were doing what you liked.” So, I decided to make something together with her, and I started by listening to her stories. When we started talking for a while, before I knew it, three hours had passed. That’s how much there was to talk about, so I wrote down notes first and then started writing a work while matching the contents with my own perspective as a child. When I showed her the play I had written, there were parts where she would say, “It’s good to talk about this, but I don’t want it to be written about.” So I corrected those parts or turned things into fiction while communicating with my mother.

When my mother saw the play Sugata that was created in this way, she said something like, “I have changed.” I think there were some places where she could say that in front of her son, but in fact, after my mother retired from her job as a civil servant, she said she wanted to set up an office to hold exhibitions and other things. In fact, after the performance of aka aka was over, my mother organized an exhibit of my grandfather’s paintings. Now, my mother has asked me to be involved in the launching of such an office.

Since I started writing works about the realities of our house, it has become much easier for me to talk with my parents. Rather than a parent-child relationship, talking about work or as colleagues who do the same work changes the attitude when we interact. It was a big discovery for me to see how changing roles in this way changes relationships.

Yumei Sugata (reestage)
(May, 18–30, 2021 at Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre- Theatre East)
Photo: Keita Sasaki

In Yuma’s works, it’s common for a single actor to play multiple roles, to swap roles in the middle of a play, or to change roles.
I think you can see more possibilities for expansion by playing multiple roles. I think it’s not so much fun of the casting itself, but the fact that by playing multiple roles, you can see what kind of person the actors themselves are. It’s also interesting that when an actor plays my father on the same stage where he himself is present, it changes the way he appears.

But in reality, not all roles can be changed. Of course, there are people who have “roles” that cannot be changed in the first place. I hope that by trying to change roles, the people themselves can see what they can’t change, or realize the presence of people that have things within them that cannot be changed.
In your early works, I think there is often a pattern where the work would begin with an actor saying, “I’m Ryo Ikeda.” I wonder if that act of taking on that name comes from an awareness of their role.
In the case of Ototoi, I had the actor call himself “Ryo Ikeda” in order to show that when I put a real story on stage, it is connected to reality, but it is still different from reality. When I write on 2channel, I use the name “Na-nashi-san” (Nameless) or I write a posting anonymously, and I think that giving someone a name on stage has a similar effect.
Do you sometimes incorporate things from the lives of the actors who appear in your works into the roles?
I don’t do it at the stage when I am writing a play, and when I direct, I don’t instruct the actors to recall their own personal memories when they perform in a play. I think there are times when something about the actor comes out in the course of acting, but that is something that happens when an actor performs in a theater using the skills they have acquired. So, I think it is different from the reality that comes out in normal conversation.
I would like to ask you about how you create your works. Where do you start from when you are creating a work?
In fact, I often start by making the stage art ahead of the work itself. Even in Ototoi, what I first had was not a theme or a story, but an image of a pole like a signpost standing on the stage.
Do you start the story from that stage design?
As with the “Hi-bye Door,” it’s interesting that the presence of it makes you see a scene around it. For example, I start from the image of a shape from daily life that remains very strongly in my memory. As I expanded the story from there, thinking that I could end up in a world different from the story I wanted to depict, with an entity completely different from myself.

So, I think it would be good if stage art could be viewed independently as an art in itself. For example, even if you see a certain play and think you don’t understand the meaning, you can still enjoy something that has nothing to do with the story, can’t you? I think people are looking for things on stage that, even if by coincidence, can change the way they look at things. Of course, the stage art is something that is created with some definite intention, but I also want to see it bring things that are not my intention to the stage.

To be a little more specific, my mother was once angry at me on a traumatic level, but one thing I remembered distinctly from that moment was the red scarf she was wearing at that time. When I investigated it later, I learned that it was my grandma’s hand-knitted scarf. That doesn’t make the trauma go away, but it showed me that my grandma had made such a beautiful hand-knitting scarf for my mother. That made it possible for me to look back on that time she got angry at me from a different perspective. In this kind of way, I think that by changing our perspective, we can change our obsession with something or relationships that have become fixed and can’t progress.
You’ve long been working on stage design, but recently you’ve changed to having Kie Yamamoto do your stage art.
As I was doing it for a long time, I inevitably started thinking about the script and the stage art at the same time. I have an image of stage art as something like a park. The director and the actors will experiment with ways to use the play equipment that they find there. If it is a playground that I have conceived from scratch, the types of play it proposes will be narrowed. However, with the stage art that Kie-san proposes, I can also propose new ways of playing with it, and the premise that the director does not always have the right answer makes it easier for the actors to make proposals. When that is the case, it increases the possibilities for the work to expand in more directions than if I had created it by myself.
After the image of the stage art is established, how do you proceed with writing a play?
To some extent, there is an image of what the work will involve and the setting where these kinds of people will appear, and based on that, we decide whom to interview and listen to their stories. Then try to write a script in my own way. I start by writing the events in chronological order, and from there, for example, in the case of Sugata I asked the mother of the interviewee to read it, and the performers read it and give me their ideas about what was wrong with it.

With Yumei, criticism is not what the director gives to the actors, but what the interviewed person or performer gives to the playwright. Although the method is not always the same, and I’m always thinking about what is good or not.
How do you conduct the rehearsals?
In rehearsals, rather than giving direction about the acting, I often ask the actors to try to change their position on the stage and in relation to the things on it to see how that affects what they can see, as if they should try acting here next time. Of course, this also involves how they approach the stage art.

Because I don’t really criticize the acting, conversely, some actors ask me to say more. But for me, one of the things I worry about is whether the director should intervene that much in the actors’ roles and the work of acting. I think that perhaps the job of the director is to figure out how best to show the actors’ own output, and to think about how to show it that way.
I think that the way you relate to things and people has something in common with other artists of your generation.
For example, Masashi Nukata of Nuthmique and Akira Nakazawa of Spacenotblank were born in the same year 1992 as me, and I feel that there are many things that we may share in common, such as our sense of the Internet. For works like Wear and Hawawa, which provided the original script for Spacenotblank, I thought that it might be possible to turn something other than written text for play, so I gave them not only text but also video, music, Excel and PowerPoint data as other things to work from. There definitely seem to me to be places where such experiments can be done, because there are similarities in the sensibilities we share.
Please tell us about your new work Heartland scheduled for April 2023.
One of the motifs of this new work is “movie thief” (a “manner movie” that makes an appeal for the prevention of voyeurism, or a popular name for the characters appearing in one) which is played before the main film in the movie theaters. Whenever I see that, I wonder what life is like for a movie thief.

For instance, in aka aka I did a story about not being able to keep works (paintings) that had been left behind (by the deceased, and that made me wonder if the same could happen with a story, that a continuation of it couldn’t be written once it had been finished. When I work on a subject, I try to concentrate on writing about it, but when I start on my next work, I forget about the previous one. When I realized that, I was confronted with a violent part of myself, in that I was treating an event as no more than material for my work. It’s similar to the case of a movie trailer, because unless you see the full film, you won’t know what happened to the characters in the trailer after that. When I watch the main film, the fact I am already thinking about how to connect my imagination of what happened after the main story, and that is not only an evaluation of the work, but also makes me think about how to connect to that reality that became the motif.

Another motif is NFT (Non-Fungible Token). Recently, there are people who sell the stories of terrible things they have experienced as NFTs, and there are people who earn money by talking about such experiences on YouTube. The reason why you get a lot of terrible experiences being retweeted on Twitter is that there are plenty of curious spectators for it. Some people earn money by telling their stories, some don’t earn a penny, and some have no one they can talk to about them.

I want Heartland to be a completely fictional work based on this kind of motif, but I also think it will be a work that critically looks at myself as a theater maker that uses reality as material.

*1 Nekama is a slang term that means that a man behaves like a woman on a Net where their authenticity cannot be confirmed.

*2 Uma Musume
This is a smartphone game app and PC game by Cygames that personifies racehorses as young women. In a training simulation game, you develop your character and aim to win the races. The anime work based on the game was also a big hit.