Tokyo International Players are producing “BIG RIVER” this month. English Shows Tokyo talks to Martin Leroux who plays Huckleberry Finn.
Photo by Rodger Sono
Interview & written by Chieko Tanaka
Speech-to-text by Yoko Kawakami
Proofread by Rodger Sono
－Please tell me about yourself.
My name is Martin Leroux. I’m a Filipino citizen and a musician. A few years ago I did my first play with Tokyo International Players. It was called “Dog Sees God.” After that, I started doing more and more plays.
My father is French and my mother is Filipino, but I grew up here in Japan. I’ve been here since nursery school. I went to an international school so I think the only language I speak well is English, but for now I can speak Japanese better than French and Tagalog.
－How did you get involved with theater?
I think it just kind of happened, but it was also a dream I had. So, my first love, of course, is music, and I write my own songs and I perform a lot, but what I wanted to do was also find another way to express myself. So I did a play in high school, and that was not a very good experience, such a stressful play.
But fortunately I found the Tokyo International Players. They were holding auditions for the first play I was in, which was “Dog Sees God,” I was a big fan of the Peanuts, and I liked the story, so I auditioned. I told myself to just have a go at it. And I was lucky enough to be cast in the role I wanted. I was into Beethoven just like the character, Schroeder, who plays the piano. It was my first role and my favorite character. I made a lot of friends in the cast and was supported and encouraged, so I kept trying and trying.
－Great! Are you also interested in acting abroad?
I would like to, someday. But since I grew up in Japan, I’ll maybe act in Japan.
－Please tell me about your role and what do you relate to your role and the story?
I’m playing Huckleberry Finn in Big River. I can relate to Huck a lot because we are very different people. But I think I relate most to who he is as a person. He is a little boy who is growing up and he is trying to find his place in society. He was raised in an abusive household, and he didn’t really have many friends and people kept trying to change him. In that respect, I think I can relate to him. Of course he is also a different kind of person than I am in many ways. he is, for example, a bit more active, more outgoing and he is more serious than I am. I like to joke around a lot, but Huck, he doesn’t understand jokes as much and tends to believe everything.
At the same time, I relate to him because he’s finding his place in the world. He is very optimistic, and he is learning who his friends are. He is also learning the beautiful things about life even though life can be difficult at times. Even if the world is not right or unfair fair, he still keeps going and he still believes in the goodness in people. That’s what I love about him, and that’s how I want to be myself.
－What do you hope audiences take away from the show?
There’s a lot of things I hope. First of all I hope that the audiences who are not familiar with the American history, of course learn real history behind, you know, slavery, and why America is the way it is right now through this story. So of course if you read Mark Twain’s original book, that is explored more, but this play, especially the way Hannah Grace is directing it, it shows that a lot.
But more than that, I really hope that people leave the theater with a better appreciation for life, and with the hope that no matter how dark things get; no matter how unfair the world can be at times, that there are still good people out there, and that love prevails even though there is a lot of injustice. I hope this play reminds them of that.
－What is your dream?
My first dream, first and foremost is, I want to, I want to be a professional musician for life. I want to perform my music and release my own music. That’s my first dream. And I’m working toward that right now.
My second dream is to someday start an animal charity fund. I’m kind of an animal activist, and I would like to establish an NPO someday that fuses my love of music and theater with animal rights. And also, I’m also very sensitive to issues about suicide and mental illness, so I would like to start some projects based on that as well.
－What is Tokyo to you?
I think Tokyo is actually a land of opportunities.
I think there are so many things on the surface in Tokyo that people assume, but Tokyo has many layers. If you go in one direction and you really peel off one layer after another, you’ll find that there are so many opportunities, so many wonderful creative people beneath the surface. And it makes me so happy to find those people, and you know, they can be from anywhere in Japan.
But I think Tokyo is where everyone goes to and Tokyo is where everything is. You just need to look that it’s there.
“Big River – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”
Date: May 19 – 22, 2016
Location: Theater Sun Mall
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Shinjuku 1-19-10 Sun Mall Crest B1
(Nearest station: Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line Shinjuku Gyoen-mae Station) *Click here for map
Ticket handling: Tokyo International Players www.tokyoplayers.org
Entrance fee: adult 4,500 yen, student 2,500 yen
※ Performance is in English, but please be assured that you marked with Japanese subtitles
Tokyo International Players：www.tokyoplayers.org/