Erika Sawajiri’s Theatrical Comeback “The Train Named Desire” Sells Out Instantly | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Erika Sawajiri’s Theatrical Comeback “The Train Named Desire” Sells Out Instantly

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Erika Sawajiri made her comeback as an actress after four years. The tickets for her stage performance sold out in seconds.Erika Sawajiri is back.

Erika Sawajiri made her comeback as an actress with her first stage performance, “The Train Named Desire,” which concluded its Tokyo run on February 18th.

The tickets went on sale and, not exaggerating, sold out in a matter of seconds, making it a talked-about production. I recently went to see the play.

In November 2019, Sawajiri was arrested on suspicion of violating drug control laws and was sentenced to one year and six months in prison, suspended for three years. She was forced to suspend her entertainment activities, and she had also publicly stated during her initial trial that she was not considering a return to acting.

However, the desire for Sawajiri’s comeback never faded, and in response to those desires, she decided to show herself as an actor for the first time in about four years.

In the entertainment industry, there are many actors and talents labeled troublemakers, but she could be considered at the top of that list. Yet, she is also an actor for whom the idea of being unnecessary never arises.

When you think of Sawajiri, you might recall the “It’s no big deal!” incident.

I’ll skip the details, but it’s possible she never expected such a big uproar from just one comment made during a stage greeting. Despite having a career, I remember feeling puzzled about why a young actress in her early twenties, who may have shown a slightly rebellious attitude, had to be criticized so harshly.

During the height of the controversy, there was a time when she appeared on a morning news program for a movie promotion while still in a bad mood. I happened to be there with her, and I can’t forget the atmosphere in the studio even now. Despite her petite stature, Sawajiri naturally exuded an aura, but what stood out more was the intense hostility emanating from her.

She greeted us with a simple “Thank you for your hard work.” Her back then seemed enveloped in a sturdy barrier that seemed to repel everyone.

It’s an event that happened 17 years ago, but since then, she has continued to appear in movies and dramas, consistently providing fodder for gossip in her personal life, and her presence has never diminished. Sawajiri herself will turn 38 this year.

“The Train Named Desire” is hailed as Tennessee Williams’ masterpiece, first staged on Broadway in 1947. It was adapted into a film in 1951 starring Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando.

In this production, Sawajiri plays the protagonist Blanche DuBois. The role of her counterpart, Stanley Kowalski, is played by Hidetaka Ito.

The story itself is not particularly complex. However, the character of Blanche that she portrays is a challenging role.

The stage is set in the American South after the end of World War II. Blanche, who was born and raised in a wealthy landowner’s family, seeks refuge with her sister Stella, who married Stanley, a former soldier turned factory worker, after the death of her husband.

Despite her downfall, Blanche, who clings to her past, clashes with the rough and crude Stanley. However, through her acquaintance with Stanley’s colleague Mitch, she finds new hope.

However, her past secrets are exposed by Stanley, and she is abandoned by Mitch. Furthermore, she is assaulted by Stanley, causing her mind to finally collapse.

It’s a challenging role of a heroine who wanders between fiction and reality, gradually breaking down.

However, Sawajiri, having performed numerous times, delivered her lines smoothly, as if they were ingrained in her body, and even the lengthy and abundant lines flowed effortlessly, as if Blanche had possessed her.

The unpredictable emotions of Blanche, which cannot be estimated, were conveyed through Sawajiri. Sawajiri has been said to excel in portraying fragility and melancholy like no other, and this stage performance reaffirmed that.

As a side note, all the journalists who interviewed Sawajiri, regardless of gender, agreed,

“Sawajiri is indeed impressive.”

And they all agreed. Despite the heavy content of the play, Sawajiri’s smile during the curtain call captivated the journalists once again.

Sawajiri, who faced her first stage performance, said the following in a magazine interview.

“For this stage, I focused on one thing. You see, now that I’ve decided to return to the world of acting, for the first time, I’ve found a dream within myself. What kind of dream? I’d like to keep that just within my own heart for now.”

What kind of dream could it be, indeed? As long as she holds onto that dream, she’ll surely never stumble again.

With each performance, this magnificent piece could very well become her masterpiece. We can’t help but hope that Sawajiri, having overcome the incident, becomes an actress loved by everyone.

  • Interview and text by Hiroyuki Sasaki (entertainment journalist) Hiroyuki Sasaki (entertainment journalist)

    Born in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, Hiroyuki Sasaki became a reporter for FRIDAY at the age of 31, reporting numerous scoops during his time at FRIDAY and later working mainly for the weekly magazine. Currently he also appears on TV and radio as a commentator.

  • PHOTO Takayuki Ogawauchi

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