#23 Toshi Shioya

Interview with Toshi Shioya

Toshi Shioya is a producer, movie director, actor, and funder of Actors Clinic, an acting school in Japan. During his college life in Japan, he mastered a Meisner technique, which is one of the main theories of method-acting and this leaded him to Hollywood. Through our interview, he introduced us the latest show, HIKOBAE, which connects 3/11 with 9/11 and is held in New York in April.

– You have experiences as an actor and a director. How those two roles are different?

Shioya:

These two are totally different. These 15 years, I’m focusing more on being a film director than being an actor. However, I actually work as a filmmaker only 40 to 50 days a year, for the rest of the days I teach acting in my school, Actors Clinic, which we have branches in Tokyo, Osaka, and Oita, and I taught more than 10,000 students in 19 years. 2 years ago, we started cooperating with Stella Adler Studio of Acting, which has produced many Academy-award winners like Robert De Niro, Kevin Costner, and so on. We decided to work together not only in our programs but also in making new plays and movies.

– Please let us know about why you started producing the play, HIKOBAE.

Shioya:

When we were working on collaboration with Stella Adler Studio of Acting, 3.11: The Great East Japan Earthquake happened, and I was talking with Tom Oppenheim from Stella about its similarity between 3/11 and 9/11. On 9/11, there were many firefighters who went into the World Trade Center and never came back. Likewise, on 3/11, 253 firefighters died on duty but rescued thousands and hundreds of people. In Soma, Fukushima, where I started making a documentary film about 2 weeks after 3/11, about 10 firefighters died who saved the lives of about 5000 people. By natural disasters or by terrorism, people like firefighters and medical stuff go save people risking their own lives instead. This is true in Japan, in the U.S., anywhere. We must hand down their great jobs to the next generations.

– Why did you choose HIKOBAE as a title?

Shioya:

oI found this word in his essay of a great critic, Takashi Tachibana, which he wrote about The Great East Japan Earthquake soon after it happened. “Hikobae” means a new leaf bud sprouting up from huge dead trees which are blown down by natural disasters. It indicates a revival itself. I liked its sound of the word. Just like Mottainai became an English word, I wish HIKOBAE comes to have a meaning of reformation in Japanese.