Introducing Taishu Engeki: This “Theater for the Masses” is the Ultimate in Traditional Japanese Entertainment! (Part 2)
Special interview with Shota Kaname, leader of taishu engeki theater company Shobuza
Shota Kaname / Leader of the Shobuza Theater Company
Shota Kaname is a native of Oita Prefecture with 20 years of acting experience. He first fell in love with taishu engeki as a young child after seeing a performance at the Kenko Center, a local venue in his native Oita Prefecture. He first entered the world of taishu engeki at the age of 11, and after an apprenticeship at 15 joined a theater company to begin his career as a performer. He currently performs throughout Japan as the leader of theatrical company Shobuza.
What is it like working with taishu engeki theater?
Q: What is the appeal of taishu engeki?
Kaname: One of the best things about taishu engeki is the unique combination of performers clad in traditional Japanese costumes such as “hakama” and “matatabi” as they give an unconventional, modern-style performance.
Q: Tell me something that is particularly important to you.
Kaname: Above all, to make sure that the audience has a good time. We try to remember to be thankful for the chance to get up on stage before an audience, so we try to continue to give the kind of performance a modern audience can enjoy. There are young members in our company as well, so we always make room for plenty of exchange of ideas during daily rehearsals.
Q: How much do you typically rehearse?
Kaname: We rehearse both in the morning and after the performance. Rehearsals can even go from the evening until 2 or 3 in the morning sometimes. When I was young, I remember sleeping on the stage or in the seats at times.
Q: Do you ever take time off?
Kaname: We typically perform year-round at theaters throughout the country, performing at each theater for a month at a time. In a typical year we wrap up our work on December 25th and take a break until December 31st. We also take off once a month.
Q: What do you do in your free time?
Kaname: As we both live and work together every day, sharing meals together is the time I enjoy the most. I also enjoy drinking, so I also sometimes spend time working out and dieting. We often take pictures with members of the audience which they then share on social media, so I have to make a bit of an effort behind the scenes so that my face doesn’t look fat all over social media (haha).
A message to our readers:
Q: Of all the theaters in Japan, what is special about Hakata Shingekiza?
Kaname: First of all, it is one of the top famous theaters in all of Kyushu. The stagehands who work together with us to set the stage are also very experienced and skilled at their work.
Q: Do you have a message to send to everyone reading both from Japan and abroad?
Kaname: If you’ve never seen a taishu engeki performance, be sure to check it out sometime! And to those of you living abroad, we hope you will come and see a performance as soon as Japan is open to visitors again!
Q: How about a special message for everyone in Fukuoka?
Kaname: I am originally from Oita Prefecture myself, so as a fellow Kyushu native it fills me with joy to receive support from audiences in Fukuoka!