Known as “prince of sidelong glance,” Taichi Saotome is a young talented actor who can play roles of men and women. Sometimes he is a strong samurai, and other times he turns into a bewitching lady in kimono.
Saotome grew up in a theatrical troupe of taishu-engeki, which is strongly influenced by traditional performing art, kabuki, but taishu-engeki is more casual. His first appearance on the stage was when he was four years old. In 2003, he made his film debut in Takeshi Kitano’s film “Zatoichi,” and two years later he appeared in another Kitano’s film “Takeshi’s.”
In Japanese theater, men who impersonate women are called onnagata.
Since he was young, he has attracted attentions as “a genius onnagata only found one in a hundred years” and “prince of sidelong glance (nagashime ouji),” however; he didn’t and still doesn’t like to be onnagata. He told Asahi Shimbun that he will continue to play onnnagata as long as he can make audiences happy with it. As a matter of fact, many Japanese women are attracted by his onnnagata performance as it is so beautiful and elegant. “I don’t feel like ‘acting a woman,’” Saotome explained, “but I think I am doing onnnagata to create one ‘life’ as Taichi Saotome. I wish audiences can feel something from there.” “I really didn’t want to play a role of woman, but the fact that I have continued onnnagata helps what I am. I could get opportunities to challenge new things thanks to onnnagata roles that only I can do. I want to challenge myself in various fields. ”
You can see Saotome’s performance in the following videos; the first one is female role and the latter one is sword dance. Which Saotome do you like?
“Taichi Saotome Playing Onnnagata”
If you haven’t seen our recent post, “Sword Dance Synchronized with Shadows” performed by Taichi Saotome, please watch it too!
Source: Asahi Shimbun Doraku Interview with Taichi Saotome
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