Conversations: Two Stars of Snow Troupe
Migiwa Natsuko and Asami Rei
from GRAPH Aug. 1976
Souji and Toshizou
Migiwa: ďHoshikage no HitoĒ was difficult precisely because it was already famous. Takarazuka is entirely acted out by women, and the audience is largely women as well. In that type of situation, it was difficult to create the male world of the Shinsengumi.
Asami: Becoming Shinsengumi requires not just masculinity, but a deep, adult emotional outlook, which is very difficult.
Migiwa: But, you know, I feel that Okita Souji has several points in common with Oscar. Of course theyíre different in that one is a man and the other a woman, but they are both very earnest and pure, with a feeling of transparency like easily breakable glass.
Asami: Despite growing up under such unfortunate circumstances, Okita Souji is so bright and sweet that everyone loves himÖ Thatís the strong image I see.
Migiwa: Thatís why, one way or other I wanted to convey his youth and fragility. Although he is a genius swordsman, I also want him to be the sprite who was loved by his fellow Shinsengumi. In the world of the Bakumatsu, his light saved everyone Ė thatís all I want to convey. Of course, if I do that I calm down. When I think of growing up and becoming settled Iím frightened.
Asami: But you also have that purity and genuineness of youth. I think you have that in common with Souji. Thatís why watching you is refreshing and feels good.
Migiwa: Souji has a sense of having lived his life riding out the waves of that age. From the time he was a child he was always with Kondou Isami and Hijikata Toshizou, and he never opposed them as he followed them. It feels as if he never asserted himself, but instead lived his life following after them.
Asami: From the uninvolved point of view of Hijikata, Souji was very sweet.
Migiwa: Thinking about it, Taako, what was difficult about playing Hijikata Toshizou?
Asami: Well, Hijikata was much older than the other members. Having to make myself seem so much above everyone else was difficult.
Migiwa: But when you put on your uniform and stand on stage you really look like Hijikata. Itís wonderful! Because you can make yourself so mature, it really helps me. If I had to play someone of that age, I wouldnít have the confidence to do it. Thatís very difficult for a female. You do it so well. What do you think of how Hijikata Toshizou lived?
Asami: It feels as if he used the Shinsengumi for his own ambitions. I think he was a man who felt very strongly about what he wanted to do.
Migiwa: Constantly holding on to himself.
Asami: Hijikata was the deputy leader of the Shinsengumi, so in front of the other members he was very strict. But when he was alone with Souji he could let his real self show. There isnít a lot of the relationship between Souji and Hijikata this timeÖ Even during the Ikedaya Raid all we have is voicesÖ.
Migiwa: But Hijikata really holds Souji dear to him, doesnít he? (laughs)
Asami: Souji collapses in the restaurantís garden, right. Because of the stage directions I canít go to be beside you, but itís incredibly sweet. (laughs)
Migiwa: You want to run to me, donít you? Thatís the truth. (laughs)
Asami: So I do. After all, I have to do as Hijikata would, and Souji is like a little brother to him. When he sees that he is unwell, he wants to say: ďAre you all right?Ē
Migiwa: But before the lights go out, you can look at Souji. (laughs)
Asami: I look, I look, worriedly.
Junko and Taako
Migiwa: Itís strange, isnít it? Iím the upperclassman, but before when we played Oscar and Andre, and now when we play Souji and Hijikata Iím the one always being looked after by you, Taako. If this continues Iím going to be relying on you completely. (laughs)
Asami: Playing Andre, I really felt like I had a purpose. Starting as I did with no idea of what I was doing, there really was a lot I had to learn. Although I was the one giving aid on stage, in reality all I did was depend on you.
Migiwa: Not at all. I thought, since Iím the upper classman, that Iíd have to give it my all and try my hardest, but in reality I was heartbroken. Iím no good, really. (laughs)
Asami: Iím lazy by nature, and tend to only put all my effort into things for myself, but when I watch you I suddenly want to do something to aid you.
Migiwa: But somehow you never do. (laughs)
Asami: Somehow I never do. (laughs) But when youíre being all flighty far away I never fail to watch you. (laughs)
Migiwa: Flighty? (laughs)
Asami: That kind of behavior is really cute. I shouldnít say that about an upperclassman, but it is cute.
Migiwa: When Iím next to you, Taako, I always think: ďSheís really so big.Ē You suddenly make me small again. It feels as if youíre falling down at me from a great height. (laughs) So even though weíre both otokoyaku, I donít want to be next to you. But it doesnít feel as if weíre opposing electrical forces. Although our colors are complete opposites, when weíre together it feels right. Lots of fans have spoken out about wanting to see us lined up together.
Junko-san is the Pride of Snow Troupe
Asami: You know, lately Iíve been thinking how lucky I am to be in Snow Troupe. Itís a very homey and bright troupe.... And even on stage in our plays, itís the human connections among us that are most important. If we get along well in everyday circumstances, that makes the transfer over into our lines much more smooth.
Migiwa: Everyday feelings can be easily seen in the play. Thatís because Iím very frank. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I canít lie at all.
Asami: I think the greatness of Snow Troupe has a lot to do with the influence you have on the troupe.
Migiwa: But Iím not very helpful. I never give detailed advice or anything like that.
Asami: Even if you donít talk to us personally, you watch us closely.
Migiwa: Thatís what Iím worried about.
Asami: Even before we started on the national tour you put all of your effort into your acting when you were on stage. Seeing that, the rest of us threw ourselves into the new roles as well........
Migiwa: National tours somehow always get an abundance of effort, donít they? I think we want to show people who are unfamiliar with Takarazuka how nice it can be. So I go down as far as possible. Meaning, I go down into the audience. (laughs)
Asami: Watching things like that, I learned a lot. ďAh,Ē I thought, ďso this is what a person on stage must do.Ē Thatís why you have such a strong influence on us as underclassmen.
Migiwa: Live performances where we get reactions from the audience happen one at a time, but theyíre very precious. I always think: ďNext time, ''next time'', Iíll make it better.Ē Thatís why each time I hold onto the fire and perform passionately.
Asami: Thatís when youíre magnificent.
Migiwa: But Iím small, and flighty and unreliable, and that must make you wonder: ďIs everything going to be all right?Ē (laughs)
Taako, All Grown Up
Migiwa: When you were still in Star Troupe, I was invited to watch ďNova Bossa NovaĒ and saw you perform as the Door Boy, and I was surprised! You had a sense of being very modern, and I thought you were a person who would definitely be going places. After that you came to Snow Troupe and Iíve always kept an eye on you; you study hard and put a lot of effort into it. But, although outwardly youíre very adult-like, youíre the kind of person who doesnít let their true self out often, arenít you? Before I know it youíve become too calm, and I wonder if there isnít one more thing you want to just burst out with. Of course, inside youíre all fired up, but that doesnít get transmitted. So I was worried about your energy this time in ďNon, Non, NonĒ.
Asami: Yeah. I have a solo scene, so I was very worried.
Migiwa: Up until this point you seemed indifferent to the roles you were given, but this time you used your own initiative and prepared the role. Thatís why I think this time was a huge change for you. For the first time I felt the youth in you. I can understand why it appeals to the audience.
Asami: If that doesnít happen, the show canít begin....
Migiwa: Youíre completely different from how you were before. Even off-stage, you seem to be speaking from the heart lately...... Itís a real change. And Iím so glad.
Asami: Before this I had a sense of ďwell, whateverĒ about other people and myself, as if they were a nuisance. Itís as if Iíve woken up.
Migiwa: You changed because you wanted to perform well. It must be because you love the stage.
The Stage Is Wonderful!
Asami: Recently, I was talking with my classmates about what we would do if we had an incurable illness like Souji. If it were me, I would definitely want to know. I would want to do all of the things Iíve always wanted to do before I died. ďDeathĒ is a very frightening concept, but I would rather that than pass all of my time without ever knowing.
Migiwa: I agree. But although I think that way now, if I were told that in truth Iíd become so scared Iíd be out of my mind. Definitely. If I were told I had two years left to live, like Souji, I would dither around thinking: ďWhat should I do, what should I do?Ē (laughs)
Asami: I guess ignorance really is bliss.....
Migiwa: But if I were told I had two years to live, I wouldnít quit Takarazuka. Iíd want to live on the stage until I burned out.
Asami: I think I would do the same. Iíd definitely want to keep on until my last moment. On stage, no matter what unexpected things occur, I think: ďAh, never mindĒ.
Migiwa: When did you start to have that outlook?
Asami: Recently. The stage has a fascination all of its own, of course, but I think we have a responsibility to the audience which comes to see us.
Migiwa: When you think that way, isnít it frightening?
Asami: Itís frightening. But, itís a strange thing, the stage. On opening night you think, ďI donít want to go on stage, I donít!Ē.... But when the curtain goes up and you see the theater packed full, suddenly youíre glad.
Migiwa: They say with actors and beggars, after three days they canít quit. Itís really true, isnít it?
Asami: And when I get told ďYukigumi is goodĒ I become incredibly happy.
Migiwa: Itís true, that makes me happier than anything. The feeling: ďIím so happy to be aliveĒ. Letís do our best from now on, as if weíve just been told that.
Asami: Right now, no matter what the role, I want to do it. Iíll stick close to you, Junko-san, and do my best.