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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Yukiko Motoya takes a satirical look at the 'Super No-Flat'


Special to The Japan Times

There's a new buzz in Japan's theaters these days — and she's called Yukiko Motoya. Hailing from Ishikawa Prefecture on the Sea of Japan, the 27-year-old founder of an eponymous Tokyo-based theater company has quickly become a new source of freshness both in the drama world and other cultural fields.

News photo
Actors among "super flat" counterparts from Yukiko Motoya's play "Final Fantastic Super No-Flat" IMAGES COURTESY OF VILLAGE CO.

Tokyo-based Motoya, who wrote her first play in her teens, has become a darling of the Japanese media — and not just for her cute appearance; her outspoken and often satirical observations garner her just as much attention. Unconcerned with this growing interest, though, Motoya has also established herself as a radio DJ, magazine columnist and a novelist — her latest book, "Ikiteirudakede Ai (Just Living is Love)" was nominated for last year's prestigious Akutagawa Award.

In 2006, Motoya's last play, "Sonan (Disaster)," won the best play category at the Tsuruya Nanboku Memorial Awards, making her the youngest winner ever. Motoya recently spoke to The Japan Times during a break in rehearsals for her latest work, "Final Fantastic Super No-Flat."

Is "Final Fantastic Super No-Flat" a reworking of your "Final Fantasy" from 2001?

It was supposed to be a refined version of that, but it ended up as a completely different play. The basic scenario — it takes place in a closed park with the same number of characters — is the same, but the rest has completely changed. Not a single line is the same.

Now we have a young hero who confines several young girls he's got to know from a suicide Web site in a closed amusement park. He gets them to wear exactly the same clothes and act the same as his first love, who has died already.

The play shows their bizarre life together, but it also gradually reveals the real nature of human beings — namely that they are sometimes betrayed by the real, "super no-flat," three-dimensional world, while his "super flat," two-dimensional world never betrays the hero.

What drew you to writing?

After I graduated high school in Ishikawa Prefecture, I came to Tokyo to take a yearlong acting course. For the graduation ceremony performance, I took it upon myself to write a short play. It was the first play I'd ever written, but I thought I had to show my appeal with that final performance, otherwise I would have wasted my tuition.

I wrote a 10-minute-long script, which is about a girl who believes Nostradamus's prophecies. She's driven to despair due to his prophecy about the end of the world. Of course, it doesn't happen, so the girl is hopping mad and kind of snaps — it was that sort of story, and I just wrote it on impulse. After that the lecturer, Suzuki Matsuo, recommended that I become a writer, not an actress.

Did you want to continue as an actress?

After a year's lessons, I realized I am not fit to be an actress. Basically, I was embarrassed all the time on the stage. That kind of person should not be an actress, should she?

News photo
Director Yukiko Motoya

Now I think a writer's job — publishing private opinions and thoughts — is also quite humiliating and embarrassing. But I can accept that because a third person — the character in my fictional story — speaks and performs the actions. So my voice comes out indirectly through the character, and I don't feel so embarrassed.

Also, I thought that if I became an actress, I'd have to apply and go to auditions, and then it would be up to the companies whether I could be in a play or not. But if I founded a theater company and did the writing and directing of a play, I realized I could stage it anyway without waiting for anyone else's decision.

What inspires you to write a story?

I try to see other artists' and writers' works as much as possible. Then, I pick out "cool" things that strike a chord in my heart. I've never written something to advocate particular opinions, rather I have my own peculiar and queer points of view that go into my creative process — I don't want to arouse the audience's or reader's sympathy, and I try not to have any unnecessary climax in a play.

I am now thinking about this matter of the distance from the audience — whether I should only write in my own acerbic way about what I alone am interested in and put that on the stage even though nobody may be able to understand it, or whether I should give audiences more to relate to on stage. When I started to DJ on the radio, the show became popular after I started to talk about my true feelings in my own satirical and spiteful way. I realized then that I did not need to fit myself into what the market demanded, as I was not a tarento or singer.

What do you think of your generation?

I've never thought of myself as a member of a certain generation or a certain group of people. I always view myself as an individual.

My basic stance is that I can never understand others, just as I don't understand everything about myself. So I can't make a general comment about my generation. People say that I am a representative of the younger generation, but actually I feel a fear that I will not been welcomed by young people.

"Final Fantastic Super No-Flat" runs June 4-24 at the Kichijoji Theater, a 5-min. walk from JR Kichijoji Station; tickets 4,300 yen. For more information call (03) 5361-3031 or visit www.motoyayukiko.com


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