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An interview with Ryo from Theatre Gumbo

On Saturday October 7th, the Royal manor theatre have the privelege of being only 1 of 3 venues that Theatre gumbo will be performing their award winning live show "Are you lovin it"

We asked Theatre Gumbo a few questions about the performance.

I'm Ryo Nishihara. I am an actor and a producer of Theatre Group GUMBO.

-What is Theatre Gumbo?

Theatre Group GUMBO was established by Director Kayo Tamura in 1994. Based in Osaka, this group has performed original works in 34 cities in 10 countries and received many awards.

GUMBO began touring internationally in 1997 from Edinburgh Fringe Festival, performing abroad annually.

GUMBO has received international awards including the Edinburgh Fringe "Spirit of the Fringe" award in 1998, San Diego Fringe "Fringe Of The Fringe" in 2016, "Artists' Pick Award" in 2017, "Outstanding Comedy" in 2016 & 2017, Tampa Fringe "Best in Fest Award" in 2018, Edmonton Fringe "Critics' Choice Media Pick" in 2019, Frigid NYC "Best Ensemble", Orlando Fringe "Patron's Pick", San Diego Fringe "Best Of Fest" and Hollywood Fringe "Pick Of The Fringe" and more.

In 2022, GUMBO successfully completed a half-year North American long tour "Are you lovin' it?" and won seven awards.

In addition, GUMBO has actively collaborated with overseas artists, producing not only stage works but also short films, music festivals, art exhibitions.

Since 2018, GUMBO has been the advisor of Asian Youth Theatre Festival Team JAPAN.

-What are the two performances?

Are you lovin’ it?

Winner of "Media Pick" at Edmonton Fringe, "Patron’s Pick""Blue Star’s Pick" at Orlando Fringe, "Best in Fest" at San Diego Fringe, "Best in Fest" at Tampa Fringe, "Best Ensemble" at FRIGID NY.

“Are you lovin’ it?” won 13 awards in 4 countries.

A huge hit at fringe fests across the US and Canada. Japanese GUMBO invites you to a surreal romp with a dancing Japanese businessman, Trump, Krazy Kitty and delicious WacDonalds for all. You won't be able to stop laughing!

“Are you lovin’ it?” is a story set in an imaginary theme park, ‘WacDonald's Land’. In this story we investigate the fast food industry as a symbol of American globalization and the impact on our world.

We believe that having British audiences see this production, which deals with post-war Japan-U.S. relations and social issues in contemporary Japan, is of great significance in order for them to experience the "real" Japan. in contemporary Japan, utilising traditional theatrical techniques such as Kabuki and Japanese sword play combined with pop culture such as Gothic Lolita, is of great significance and allows them entry into Japanese contemporary culture.

Princess Amnesia

I'm a forgetful princess. Is it bad to forget? What happens if I remember who I am? What did I forget? In a world without love, why would I want love?

"Princess" that everyone longs for once. But I'm not Snow White, Cinderella, or Sleeping Beauty. I am a forgetful princess.

Is it bad to forget?

What happens if I remember who I am? What did I forget?

In a world without love, why would I want love?

For Princess Amnesia, forgetting is a shield that protects her from her past trauma and the complexity of society, but it also gives her despair.

Like a disjointed puzzle, her memories and emotions are deranged and she loses her identity as to who she is.

This production is based on the issues she faced, such as young carers, mental disabilities, and child neglects. However, behind this lies social issues such as discrimination and exploitation of foreign workers in Japan that her parents' generation experienced.

Princess Amnesia not only expresses the crisis of individual identity, but her figure is a mirror that reflects society, depicting the crisis of modern society.

By digging deep into her forgotten memories, audiences will experience the crisis the world's young people face across borders.

Can a person truly know themselves without the memories that shape their identity?

Is it easy to find an identity in the modern society we live in now? Is Princess Amnesia, born of modern society, abnormal? In a world without love, why would we want love?

This is the world premiere of this production. This production has Adult Themes, Strong Language & References about Rape.

-Where in the world have you toured in the past?

We performed in 34 cities in 10 countries.

UK: Edinburgh Scotland

USA: New York, San Diego, Orlando, Tampa, Los Angeles

Canada: Edmonton, Winnipeg, Vancouver

Australia: Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, Natimuk, Mildura, Darwin, Launceston

Philippines: Manila

Bangladesh: Chattogram

Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei

And of course 13 cities in Japan.

-What brings you to the UK?

The result of the Asian Youth Theatre Festival (AYTF), which nurtures young artists under the age of 35 from 11 Asian countries, connected to this project. We have been advisers of this festival since 2018. AYTF was launched in Singapore by artistic director Claire Devine, and she also works in her home country of the UK. She supported us to perform in Portland by our achievement as advisers of AYTF.

-Have you toured in the UK before?

We performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in 1997 and 1998. This is our first tour performing in the south of the UK!

-What are you looking forward to doing in the UK?

We're really looking forward to seeing how UK audiences react to our production.

In particular, Are you lovin' it? is a production made about the theme of Japan-US relations, so we are interested to see how people in the UK feel about it.

-What are your future plans?

We hope to provide artistic incentives to the region and transform society. Starting with this year's Portland performance, we hope to deepen our interactions with Portland artists and audiences from next year onwards, and create new productions together.

Ryo Nishihara, Theatre Group GUMBO



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