Relay de 'Sienne: Haruno Sumire x Ema Naoki
Graph November 2003

Haruno Sumire: Whenever Junko-san (Ema) comes to a practice or a performance, she always gives me advice. We haven't really talked often, but I treasured these conversations and they made me very happy. That's why I requested you for this article.

Ema Naoki:Thank you. I still remain impressed by Osa-san's acting for the role of Tsusaka Koichiro in ''Dawn Overture''.

Haruno: "Osa-san," you say (laughs), but you don't need to use "san".

Ema: No, no, please let me use the "san" (laughs).

Haruno: (laughs).

Ema: That Tsusaka character had a scene where he died from an illness. All you did was smile, but you made it so eloquent and ephemeral that it was a revelation.

Haruno: (laughs).

Ema: From then on you had my attention. I loved your Tod in ''Elisabeth'' and Errol from ''Immortal Thorns'' too.

Haruno: (laughs). For me, though this is a play from a long time ago, I liked ''Apollon's Maze''. At that time, you played the role of the mysterious thief Apollon's friend.

Ema: Yes, I did.

Haruno: That role left a huge impression on me.

Ema: I see (laughs).

Haruno: You felt like such a bold sort of person that I wondered "who could that be", and it was you, Junko-san.

Ema: That's embarrassing (laugh). Osa-san, you're always changing with every production. That impresses me.

Haruno: No, no. It's not that I especially think to myself: Oh, this time I'll do it this way. I simply do what I've always done without much artificiality, and aim to devote my own feelings to it.

Ema: I think it must be because you work so hard on the fundamentals that you're able to act out so many kinds of roles. Speaking of which, music runs throughout all of ''Immortal Thorns''.

Haruno: The atmosphere of that role couldn't just be popped into. I had to listen to the music and the lines, and feel the audience's breath as well. Being able to concentrate on all of those things felt as if it took all of my attention.

Ema: Between the music ending and the spoken lines there was a pause with no sound, wasn't there? At that time, Osa-san had to fill the stage, alone, with her personality. I watched that and thought, "Ah, when there's no sound, this is what you can do." I can't remember which scene it was, but that time too was a revelation.

Haruno: I was certainly very focused while we were working on ''Immortal Thorns''. It wasn't a role I could do without sharpening my senses. Not, I thought, if I wanted to be able to present a man who wasn't a normal human being, but who had drunk an immortality elixer and continued to live for 348 years. But I'm happy that you watched it so keenly.

Ema: To have the glamour for such a completely different role after playing the ill, ephemeral death role, that is a wonderful thing.

Ema: In addition, when preparing for a role, do your feelings when you first read the script not change much?

Haruno: I think every person is different, but I'm not a real deep-thinking type (laugh). I have to expand from my first impression to include the necessary things, of course, so I think it's also no good to be restrained and not expand at all.

Ema: The role and the production?

Haruno: Yes. And there is also the good balance with your co-stars and so forth.

Ema: That's true, if you just go off preparing on your own, you won't be able to mesh with your co-stars. Also, even if the role is perfectly complete inside your head, there are times when the watching audience doesn't get your aim.

Haruno: That's why, when practices begin, I look very closely to understand the effect the director and my co-stars are trying to create, and from that aim to act out my own interpretation.

Ema: It's best not to lock yourself in and to have various possibilities.

Haruno: That's right. When I act in that manner I come closer to expanding my conceptualization for all kinds of roles. When you decide to do things one particular way at the very start, then you'll probably be able to create the role exactly like that, but if you want the role you're acting to be much deeper, then I think you should look around yourself.

Ema: I see.

Ema: I've heard a little about Midori-chan†.

Haruno: Eh!?

Ema: The hamster (laughs).

Haruno: (laughs). That's an old story! I don't have her anymore.

Ema: I see (laughs).

Haruno: If I remember correctly, it was sometime after the Great Hanshin Earthquake that I unexpectedly got her. I called her "Midori" tentativelly, and I cared for her. But she completely ignored me...

Ema: (laughs).

Haruno: She was always running in her spinning wheel and staring off at some point in space (laughs).

Ema: (laughs).

Haruno: But even so, I always took her for walks.

Ema: Wait a minute. Walks!?

Haruno: Hamsters need to be walked. They say if you leave them in their cage all the time the stress just builds up. Of course it was only in the house, but she moved around so happily when she was out of the cage. It was cute.

Ema: But she never got attached at all (laughs).

Haruno: That's right (laughs).

Ema: As a theater person, what do you think is the most influential thing for you? Watching movies, conversations, etc. -- there's a lot of things.

Haruno: Perhaps the feelings of the people around me.

Ema: The people, absolutely.

Haruno: They say that the environment a person is raised in as a child is a huge influence. From my parents I learned things which I can never forget my constant gratitude for, so I want to be appreciative of people's feelings. I can't say it well, but I feel as if that more than anything is where I began.

Ema: That's it fundamentally, isn't it? While we are on the stage acting out our roles, we're doing a job that concerns many kinds of people, like the guests, our co-stars, and the staff. Later, when I hear you sing, Osa-san, I think these words will take on a lot of meaning.

Haruno: The message a song communicates is the entirety of the mood of the piece, not simply the lyrics alone, and I think it's wonderful if I can convey the entire bundle. Junko-san, is there something that you usually aim for?

Ema: When I come to a point where I really want to do something, I think: "I definitely want to make this happen". When I'm busy and I don't have any extra time, even if it's overdoing it I would rather make the time to do it.

Haruno: I also try to make time like that, so that I can aim for the things which are important to me. Time is so easy to lose...

Ema: But if you don't take care of your heart, you won't be able to create anything.

Haruno: That's right. We've never had a chance to talk seriously before, but today I was again able to feel your huge warmth, and how wonderful you are. I'm glad we could talk.

Ema: No, no (laughs). Please continue to enjoy yourself, and to make wonderful performances.

Haruno: I will.

† Midori-chan: When Osa became Top Star of Flower Troupe, her partner was Otori Rei, whose nickname is "Midori".