ON THE ART OF BURNING BRIDGES
by Tari Gwaemir
"She left her life on Monday."
From the memoirs of Himekawa Ayumi:
If there is anything I have learned from my mother, who was my first role model as well as my first rival on the stage, it is that hesitation is fatal to acting. One must carry on without looking back, since to dwell on the past is to step outside the stage and into the audience, to drop the fragile mask that is, in the end, the thespian's one and only true possession. (Fame, accolades, even the pleasure of exposing yourself to a crowd of captivated strangers--these are mere perks of a successful career. To be an actor is to trade one mask for another until I am no one but the potentiality of a million different personnages.)
At an early age, I was given lessons in dancing, etiquette, music, painting, flower arrangement, tea ceremony, fencing, French and English, a neverending list of accomplishments to train me for the spotlight. Yet even before this surfeit of education, I learned first how to stand on the stage: my first real memory is the sensation of having a thousand eyes focus on me. I hope I do not exaggerate when I say that the theatre is in my blood. But it took me years and years to acquire the strength of mind it takes to hurl oneself from one role to the next without pausing, to lose my retrospective sentiment, to see nothing but the next mask to be donned.
When I tell others that Kitajima Maya is a natural, what I mean is simply that she did not need to learn this crucial lesson. She already knew instinctively what she must do, from that first moment when Tsukikage Chigusa asked her to join her school. In order to be an actress, Kitajima repeatedly abandoned everything that held her back with a sort of innocent ruthlessness. This became her greatest tragedy and her greatest strength. I shall always consider her to be my only equal on the stage.