By Hideki Sukenari / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterRising playwright-director Shuko Nemoto instills women’s true feelings and intense emotions in her works. Her plays, which are wrapped in contemporary trends, also have a genuine pop feel about them.
Her latest work, “Shin-Sekai Romance Orchestra,” is currently playing at the Globe Tokyo in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, starring Tatsuya Ueda of KAT-TUN, a popular boy band from Johnny & Associates.
“What I hate most is when my new work is less interesting than my previous work,” Nemoto said during an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun ahead of opening night.
The 27-year-old Tokyo native has watched kabuki and various other theatrical works since childhood under the influence of her theater-loving mother.
A young Nemoto was once a competitive junior mogul skier, but had to give up the sport due to an injury she sustained when she was a first-year junior high school student.
Around that time, Nemoto watched a performance by the Otonakeikaku theater company and was completely blown away by it.
“I couldn’t understand it at all,” she said. “However, I got a strong desire to understand it.”
Afterward, Nemoto became completely absorbed in theater, watching 120 works a year. She also wrote reviews in her journal.
“I wrote things like the audience get bored unless there’s something gripping happening in the first 10 minutes, and what I thought as a member of the audience,” she said. “That diary is very useful now when I create plays.”
After graduating from high school, Nemoto studied under playwright-director-actor Masaaki Akahori at the ENBU Seminar theater and film school. She initially wanted to become an actress, but eventually decided to focus on writing plays due to worries about problems with her legs.
Nemoto started theater company Gekkan Nemoto Shuko (Monthly Nemoto Shuko) when she was 19 — the name sounds similar to Gekidan, Motoya Yukiko, the theater production unit founded by popular actress-playwright-director Yukiko Motoya.
“I took the name from the Gekkan photo book series featuring female showbiz personalities,” Nemoto said. “If people thought the name was a lesser copy of Ms. Motoya’s, then I thought they would remember the name, for better or worse.”
However, Nemoto’s works are filled with her own color. In “Nakano no Shojo ga Iku” (The virgin in Nakano is coming), she wrote about the inner workings of a maid cafe, making use of her own experience of working in such a cafe. When she was writing her second latest work, “Mina Cinderella ga Yaritai” (Everyone wants to play Cinderella), she needed to write about middle-aged women infatuated with male companions at so-called host clubs, so she frequented such places.
“I wanted to know what it feels like to visit,” she said.
As a result, the comedy gained universal appeal with strikingly realistic lines.
“Every time I put on a show, I do so thinking there’s at least one member in the audience who is watching a play for the first time,” Nemoto said. “I think we’d possibly lose one person from the theatergoing population if our show is boring.”
The playwright-director has an increasing number of fans as she continues to stage her plays at fringe theaters and bars. Her latest production marks her debut at the Globe Tokyo, which has a seating capacity of about 700.
The play is the first time Ueda has appeared in a comedy, playing the role of a member of a band on the verge of making a major-label debut. The protagonist struggles as he writes music and seeks a partner.
“If I have someone vibrant at the center of my work, then I’ll do something vibrant as well,” Nemoto said. “I want to produce a work that I’d want to see if I were a member of the audience and a fan of Mr. Ueda.”
Although Ueda has many enthusiastic followers, Nemoto said she did not feel any pressure.
She described Ueda as “pure and sincere.”
“He can change the atmosphere by just standing in the center, while also being capable of taking on a position in the way that I can never direct,” she said. “I respect him and find him very interesting.”
“Shin-Sekai Romance Orchestra” runs until May 21 at the Globe Tokyo in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo. The comedy will be shown at Theater Drama City in Osaka from May 26 to 28. Visit www.sekaroma.com for more information.Speech