Actor Katsuhiro Higo talks about the “40-year reunion” before the formation of Ostrich Club. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Actor Katsuhiro Higo talks about the “40-year reunion” before the formation of Ostrich Club.

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Juro Karo is passionately playing the role of an old man on stage

The stage “Shoujo Toshi kara no Koei” (Calling from the Girl’s City) has been performed since July 9 this year. In the world of underground theater created by playwright Juro Karo, Katsuhiro Higo, a member of the Ostrich Club, is playing the role of an old man with veteran actor Naomasa Rokudaira.

How did he get into acting? We will look into the core of Katsuhiro Higo’s charms, which have not been revealed much until now, such as his first film as an actor, episodes before the formation of Ostrich Club, difficulties he faced in film productions, and stories related to Juro Karo.

When I was in my 20s. When I was in my 20s, I went to see a free stage performance, and Djimon and Ueshima were on the stage.

His first stage appearance was in “Akashinogekidan” before the formation of Ostrich Club.

–At present, you are active as an actor in addition to comedy, but do you remember the first work you appeared in?

Higo:When it comes to the stage, I first appeared in a play called “Akashin Gekidan,” which was created by the comedy trio “Kontro Akashin” (consisting of Masayuki Watanabe, LaSalle Ishii, and Takayasu Komiya).

The play “Magellan Blue” was performed in 1984, written by Mr. Naofumi Konoue, the leader of the theater company “Daisanbutai” and directed by Mr. Takeshi Kawamura, the leader of the theater company “Daisan Erotica”. Probably, it was before he formed Ostrich Club.

–Do you remember your first appearance in a movie or drama?

Higo: The movie was “Billy the Kid’s New Dawn” (released in 1986, starring Hiroshi Mikami. Vap/Parco), and I think it was MP (Military Police). It was a role where I was just standing around as an MP in the US Army.

I think my first drama was “A Strange Story” (“There Was a Door There” aired in ’90 on Fuji TV). With “Sekai ni Bizarre Monogatari,” I had a hard time getting my lines and movements to match. The dialogue was fine, but the director gave me detailed instructions like, “Move this far and then stop here.

For example, if I was to hold a plastic bottle and drink from it, the director would say, “The camera is near your face, so please move it a little further. …… (Mr. Higo gradually adjusts the position of the plastic bottle) Oh, here it is” (smiles). (Laughs.) I was so nervous about it, and after that it was all messed up.

I had to give out a lot of NGs. Looking back on it now, I only memorized the lines, so they gave me detailed instructions. I remember I realized that I had to come up with my own acting plan in advance.

The Tokyo performance of the stage “Calling from the Girl City” will be held at THEATER MILANO-Za from July 9 to August 6 (PHOTO: Shinji Hosono)

When I was in my twenties. I went to see a free play, and Djimon-san and Ueshima-san were in it.

–Did you always want to be an actor in the first place?

Higo: No, no, not at all. At first, I ended up in a common pattern, like a comedian appearing in a drama as a one-point character. (Jimon-san (Terakado) and Ryubei Ueshima (Ueshima Ryuhei) came from the training school of the theater company “Theatre Echo,” while I came from a strip joint (Shibuya Dotonbori Theater). That’s the biggest difference between the two of us.

Mr. Higo answering an interview

–After actually performing in your work, did you feel that you were suited to the world of theater?

Higo: Yes, I think I am suited for it. Comedy is like manzai and many other things, but I am a contortionist. I feel very comfortable when I am playing a role, and I think that is why I like it so much.

In comedy, I play a variety of roles, such as a doctor, a policeman, a sushi chef, a businessman, and a cameraman, so when I am offered such roles, I can play them without any sense of discomfort. I can play those roles without feeling any discomfort. I look forward to seeing myself in a role or a costume.

–Higo: Did you often see not only comedies but also theater performances when you were young?

Higo: When I was in my 20s in the “Red Light Theatre Company,” I did my best to see many plays for study. There was no Internet back then, so I read “Pia” magazine. When you were young, you didn’t have a lot of money. One day, I read in Pia that I could see a play at Theatre Echo for free, so I went to see it.

When the play was over, the actors who had just performed came out into the audience and said, “Good work! At first I was puzzled. I was puzzled, but then I thought, “Oh, so that’s how it is. Most of the people who came to see the show were acquaintances of the performers, so they were like, “Whose friend is that? I heard they were like, “Whose friend is that?

The performers at that time were (Terakado) Djimon and (Ryubei) Ueshima. We didn’t know each other, and it wasn’t the beginning of anything, but we had already met each other.

After I became a comedian, I performed in “Shimura Spirit” (a stage show hosted by and starring Ken Shimura that started in 2006. ). I met another actor who performed with him on the stage. I started to see other performances by the actors I had performed with there. So from then on, I mostly went to see plays because of who was in them, rather than because the play was well-received.

In the NHK morning drama “Chimu Doton,” she was told on the street, “Thank you, for giving me more paychecks…

–Higo: In the NHK morning drama “Chimu Doton,” you played the role of a construction site foreman, and the scene where you give Yuko Higa, played by Yukie Nakama, more dollar bills than usual was very impressive.

Higo: That scene was shot on location, and I thought it was amazing because it was an exact replica of the “original scene of Okinawa when dollar bills were used” that I saw as a child, such as the construction site trucks and the soup kitchen. Even though it was made based on the reference photos, I was impressed by the fact that they reproduced it as it was in the “original landscape of Okinawa when dollar bills were used” that I saw as a child.

Mr. Higo answering an interview

When I was in Okinawa, the island was under American rule after the war. We used dollars until May 1972, when Okinawa was returned to the mainland. However, since the currency had changed to yen by the time Mr. Nakama was born, he was not sure of the value of the dollar bill at that time. So he asked me, “How much would a dollar bill of this size be worth?” He asked me, “My friend’s three children, right? Then you can manage to eat, but you may not be able to save enough money.

What surprised me was after the episode aired. When I was walking around town, I was told by many people, “Thank you, you gave us more salary. I had been in many dramas before, but I had never heard anything like that, so I thought that morning dramas were really great. I was surprised that they were looking at me that closely as a character.

–You have appeared in a wide range of dramas, including NHK’s morning dramas, historical dramas, and detective dramas.

Higo: There was an Okinawan drama called “Fence” that aired on WOWOW from March to April this year, and I had to give out a lot of NG. I don’t remember the exact lines, but for example, if I said, “That’s the wrong person (the “and” goes up),” he would say, “No, it’s not. It’s the wrong person (the person’s “to” goes down),” he pointed out.

I had learned the wrong intonation to begin with ……, or rather, I used it that way on a daily basis. So, the more I repeated it, the more I was like, “Wow! Also, I play the role of the head of the International Crime Unit, and it’s a very tense and cool scene. And it’s a cool, tense scene. I go down the stairs with my phone in my hand, and as I’m walking down the hallway, the camera whizzes past me. I’m in a hurry, because the investigation is in its final stages.

I’m in a hurry. I think it was something like, “Is there a superior officer on the scene?” He runs down the stairs, and every time he stops at “That’s the wrong person. ……” and says, “Okay, one more time. I could just say, “You’ve got the wrong person,” but when I spoke in a flowing voice, I would always get it wrong. It would end up sounding like I was speaking one-word Japanese (laughs).

It wasn’t just my fault, but everyone on the staff would get caught up in it, so I would say over and over, “I’m so sorry! (in a crying voice). At that time, I really didn’t know what to do. I was really inconvenienced at the site.

The time has finally come for me to perform in front of the real Juro Karo!

— You have been performing in the play “Calling from the Girl City” written by Juro Karo since July 9, 2012. Have you ever seen Juro Karo’s “Red Tent” (the common name for the mobile tent theater by “Gekidan Karagumi”) in the past?

Higo: I saw it when I was about 20 years old. I was crammed into a red tent built on the grounds of Hanazono Shrine in Shinjuku, and I couldn’t understand it at all. That was the end of it.

About 40 years later, I decided to participate in the festival. At first I was really intimidated, but when I got involved and started rehearsing, it was a lot of fun. When I saw the plays that everyone else was doing, I thought, “Wow, this is an interesting play. I don’t know if it was because I got older or what, but I was able to enjoy it a lot more.

Mr. Higo answering an interview

–Is the atmosphere of the play the same as it was back then?

Higo: There are differences between a tent and a theater, but the atmosphere is the same as it was back then. The director, Sujin Kim, told me, “I saw the show 40 years ago, but I couldn’t understand anything at that time. I was dying on the pier.” He laughed and said, “Oh, 40 years ago was a time when people didn’t think of the audience as customers. I guess underground theater has gradually changed over time.

–Did you have any contact with Juro Karo himself?

Higo: The first time I met Mr. Kara was during rehearsals for this play. When I played a scene with Rokudaira (Naomasa) in front of Mr. Kara, I was like, “Wow!

Of course I knew Juro Karo, but I never thought I would be performing in front of him. I was nervous because he was sitting right there watching me. I thought, “Finally, the time has come for me to perform in front of the real Juro Karo.

I had a vague image of the director glaring at the actors and yelling at them, but he actually laughed at me without saying a word. But I was relieved to see that he actually laughed at me without saying anything. I heard from people who knew the time that it used to be scary. I am glad to have met him at a time when he was smiling and looking at me (laughs).

Roppei-san is a genius, a wunderkind, and a mess…

–What was your impression when you first read the script of “Calling from the Girl City”?

Higo: It seems to be a work written 40 years ago, but it is still a very interesting script to read now. When I read the text alone, I feel like, “Oh, it’s Juro Karo’s world, after all.

This time, I’m doing a two-shot with Rokhira-san, and we have a conversation like, “How are you? and then suddenly, “Did you buy a subscription? And then suddenly, “Did you buy a subscription?” and other unrelated lines would pop up. I thought it was absurd or underground, the world of Juro Karo.

In addition to that, the director, Mr. Kim, adds some harsh lines like “Let’s add this” and “Let’s add that “, so the colors become more and more intense.

(PHOTO: Shinji Hosono)

–Higo: Was there any part of the role that was difficult to create after the rehearsals started?

Higo: My partner Rokuhira-san drags me around. During rehearsals, he would say, “Leader, this way! and then he would say, “No, it’s not the right way. This way! He keeps changing what he is saying. Rokuhira-san is a genius, a genius, and a messy person, so it is very difficult to work with him.

Rokudaira-san, Kazama (Morio), and the other members of the troupe performed at Hanazono Shrine in June. They had already finished their lines and everything else, so they were all rehearsing with a lot of energy.

–I can feel the enthusiasm for this play just by listening to you.

Higo: The script is interesting, and the actors are great, but the visuals are also wonderful. The cast and crew, which are all very well rounded, and the video production are all working together beautifully. It’s a great piece of work. I think it will probably win an award.

In America, there is a Tony Award, right? I don’t know what kind of awards they have in Japan (laughs), but I’m sure it will be awarded in some way. I think that will take the director, Mr. Kim, to the next level.

Mr. Higo answering an interview

Katsuhiro H igo was born in Okinawa Prefecture in 1963. In 1985, he formed the comedy trio “Dacho Club” with Ryubei Ueshima and Jimon Terakado. He is the leader of the group. He is the leader of the group, and is known for his physical reactions, “Ya! and “I didn’t hear you!” gags, as well as his personal impersonations of DREAMS COME TRUE’s Masato Nakamura and Reo Morimoto, among others, made him popular. In 2010, he formed ♨♨Daicho and has been actively performing. The Tokyo performance of the stage “Calling from the Girl City” will be held at THEATER MILANO-Za from July 9 to August 6. Starring Akihiro Yasuda (Kanjani Eight) and co-starring Miyu Sakiki, Hiroki Miyake, Morio Kazama, Naomasa Rokudaira, and others.

  • Interview and text Asahi Suzuki

    Freelance editor/writer. Formerly a band member and a broadcaster. Loves all kinds of entertainment. Published "Shimura Ken Theory" (Asahi Shinbun Publishing) in April 2021. Currently updating his personal website, "Immortal Writing Blues.

  • PHOTO Sugizo and Shinji Hosono (stage)

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