Monty DiPietro

Monty DiPietro



Originally published on on October 2009


You’re Canadian. What brought you to Japan, and how long have you been here?

I was born in Montreal and came to Tokyo in 1990 to taste exotic Asia, figuring I’d stay about a year. Thing is, I still figure I’ll stay about another year…

You wrote on art for The Japan Times and ARTnews for a long time…
I sort of fell into that, but there was plenty of champagne and shaved salmon at the vernissage of the ’90s, so I wasn’t complaining. Honestly, though, it seemed unreal. Yes, there were talented artists and dedicated gallerists, but they were hamstrung by a lack of public funding and private collectors. Contemporary art in Tokyo was not “happening” at an immediate level, and the scene, while fun at times, always seemed something of a simulacrum. I only write the occasional art story now.

How did you get involved with the Tokyo International Players?
One night I challenged TIP president Jonah Hagans to produce plays set in Tokyo. He responded by challenging me to write one.

Tell us about writing Honiefaith.

It’s based on the death of Honiefaith Ratilla Kamiosawa, a Filipina whose dismembered body was discovered in a Tokyo coin locker in 2008. From the outset, I resolved not to directly depict the death, and not to be political or artsy in approach. So I took the death as the inciting incident, then developed six characters who would be affected by it. The protagonist is a Filipino newspaper reporter dispatched to Tokyo to cover the tragedy. The relationships and interplay between the characters unfolds the story. In this regard, I got what I wanted—straight theater, a play about people.

One thing I realized is that unlike with a magazine or newspaper story, a writer never really finishes a play. That responsibility goes to the director and actors. I was nervous watching rehearsals, but satisfied with the June premiere.

The audience reaction was terrific, I think because the theater is intimate, and so the drama resonates through the room.

You live in Kabukicho. What’s that like?

Speaking of drama! Kabukicho is convenient, noisy, alive and sleazy. When I was a bachelor, friends were always dropping by for all-nighters. Now I’m married, which is wonderful, but I can’t help thinking maybe we should move, like to Kichijoji? Maybe I’d miss the crazy energy, I don’t know.

What’s your recipe for a perfect day in Tokyo?
An afternoon picnic in Shinjuku Gyoen then an evening at the theater—Honiefaith goes up next weekend!

DiPietro’s three-act play Honiefaith will be performed Nov 6-8 at Our Space in Hatagaya. See for information and tickets.