Off Stage

Loud and wacky

Japanese actor Ryo Nishihara (far left, with the cast of Super Happy Land) had to learn to use a samurai sword for a scene.
Japanese actor Ryo Nishihara (far left, with the cast of Super Happy Land) had to learn to use a samurai sword for a scene. PHOTO: MASAMI KIKUCHI, JAPAN

Happy-go-lucky Japanese actor Ryo Nishihara is looking forward to performing in Singapore later this week in a show that seems aptly named for him.

Super Happy Land, whose cast includes the 36-year-old actor from the Osaka-based group Theatre Gumbo, is a show about an exclusive location with five hand- picked residents.

An international collaboration between Theatre Gumbo and local theatre company Hatch Theatrics, it runs here from Thursday to Saturday, following its premiere in Osaka last month. The show is in Japanese, English and Malay with English surtitles.

Is acting a natural choice for you?

It is natural. I've been performing since I was 18 years old.

But I always feel that my acting is at the beginner's level because it's always good to start any new project fresh and with a humble heart.

I don't like to start a project thinking that I know it all.

Tell us more about your character in the upcoming show.

I play Captain Decibels, a secret service agent. My character is like a Japanese samurai and businessman.

There's a fight scene that requires me to fight with a samurai sword, which I've never done before and the choreography is a bit tricky.

The fight choreographer Shuki Utsumi is very patient - he pain- stakingly taught me how to move in a certain way so that I don't look like an amateur fighter.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

I like to bathe and keep clean before a show. I always have my towel, toothbrush and toothpaste with me.

What is your biggest fear on stage?

I think my voice is too loud.

I remember an incident last year when Hatch artistic director Faizal Abdullah came to Osaka and did a week of rehearsals for our previous show together, Ring-a Ring-o' Rosie.

He heard my loud voice and whispered to me that the venue we were performing at in Singapore, The Substation, was not an open- air space where you could shout to your heart's content.

So controlling my voice is my biggest fear. Sometimes I get too excited and I go out of control.

I'm sure Faizal named my character Captain Decibels because of my voice.

What are some of your hidden talents?

I rap. I'm also a Japanese cheer- leader because I can cheer up anyone in the world.

And I can make sushi because I am Japanese.

Everyone assumes because I'm Japanese that we all love to eat sushi and can make only sushi.

Well, that's actually true.

My favourite sushi is the California roll, hence that's the only sushi I make.

What are you looking forward to doing in Singapore?

As we will be performing at Malay Heritage Centre, which is near Arab Street, the other Gumbo members and I can't wait to go there to buy all the cloth and eat the good food in the area.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2015, with the headline Loud and wacky. Subscribe