APRIL 2006

3 shows in T˘ky˘ (Kabukiza, Theatre Cocoon), 1 in Nagoya (Misonoza), 3 in ďsaka (Sh˘chikuza), 2 in Ky˘to (Minamiza, Daigoji), and 2 on Shikoku island (Kanamaruza)!

Kabukiza (T˘ky˘)
Dates 1 ~ 25 April 2006 (Shigatsu ďkabuki)
MatinÚe

Kitsune to Fuefuki

Takao

Hototogisu Koj˘ no Rakugetsu

Kanhasshű Tsunagi Uma

Evening

Ii Tair˘

K˘j˘

Shigure Saigy˘

Ise Ondo Koi no Netaba

Casting

Nakamura Jakuemon, Onoe Kikugor˘, Kataoka Nizaemon, Nakamura Kichiemon, Nakamura Tomijűr˘, Nakamura Shikan, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Sakata T˘jűr˘, Nakamura Baigyoku, Nakamura Kaishun, Kataoka Gat˘, Kataoka Hidetar˘, Nakamura Fukusuke, Ichikawa Sadanji, Nakamura T˘z˘, Nakamura Matsue, Nakamura Kantar˘, Nakamura Tamatar˘

Comments

This April program commemorates the 5th anniversary (6th memorial service) of the death of Nakamura Utaemon VI. It also celebrates the shűmei of Nakamura Matsue VI and the first stage appearance of his son, who receives the name of Nakamura Tamatar˘ V. The new Matsue plays the roles of Minamoto no Yorihira and Imada Manjir˘ in "Kanhasshű Tsunagi Uma" and "Ise Ondo Koi no Netaba"; his son Tamatar˘ plays the role of the child Umematsu in the former play.

  • Kitsune to Fuefuki: this is a modern play by the late H˘j˘ Hideji. Based on an ancient tale, it combines the atmosphere of a fairy tale with very human emotions. A young court flute player (Nakamura Baigyoku) is disconsolate after the death of his wife, but comes to live with a woman that looks just like her (Nakamura Fukusuke). In fact, she is a fox whose life he saved. But they must not sleep together or she will die. One day, furious after losing the opportunity to play in front of the emperor, the flute player drinks, and, no longer able to control his desire, sleeps with her. The next day, the flute player commits suicide embracing her dead body.
  • Takao: an elegant dance showing the ghost of a courtesan who died because a samurai lord fell in love with her. She describes her life in the pleasure quarters and then shows the torment she is suffering in the afterworld. Starring the Living National Treasure Nakamura Jakuemon in the role of the ghost of the courtesan Takao.
  • Hototogisu Koj˘ no Rakugetsu: although in the late 16th century Toyotomi Hideyoshi ruled Japan, after his death, control quickly passed to Tokugawa Ieyasu, and the fate of Hideyoshi's clan, his wife Yodogimi and young son Hideyori was sealed in a series of battles over their stronghold, ďsaka castle. First performed in 1905, this is a play by Tsubouchi Sh˘y˘, famous as the first translator of Shakespeare's plays. The mad scenes of Yodogimi as the clan goes down to defeat are reminiscent of those of Lady Macbeth and have turned out to be the source of the enduring popularity of the play. Featuring the Living National Treasure Nakamura Shikan as Yodogimi in a role created by Nakamura Utaemon V and carried on by his son, Nakamura Utaemon VI.
  • Kanhasshű Tsunagi Uma: this is an extremely rare revival of a play by the great Chikamatsu Monzaemon that shows Masakado, the man that conquered eastern Japan and tried to become emperor and his confrontation with a magical earth spider that appears in the form of beautiful woman. Starring Nakamura Kaishun and Kataoka Nizaemon in the role of the spirit of the earth spider and Taira no Masakado.
  • Ii Tair˘: Ii Naosuke was the head of state in Japan in 1860 when there were pressures from inside and outside the country. Imperial loyalists demanded that the Sh˘gun step down and hand over rule to the emperor to resist the foreign barbarians. The United States and other countries insisted that Japan open its doors. On March 3, at the snow-covered gate to the Sh˘gun's castle, Ii Naosuke was assassinated by imperial loyalists. This modern play by H˘j˘ Hideji features the last day before the assassination as Naosuke senses that his end is near. The deaths of an old friend and his newborn daughter make Naosuke and his mistress Oshizu think back to simpler times before he was burdened by such responsibilities. Starring Nakamura Kaishun as Oshizu, a role made famous by his father Nakamura Utaemon VI, Nakamura Kichiemon as Ii Naosuke and the Living National Treasure Nakamura Tomijűr˘ as Naosuke's Zen teacher.
  • K˘j˘: there is a close relationship between the stage and the audience in Kabuki and this is shown by these ceremonial stage announcements where the top stars of the company address the audience directly. This k˘j˘ celebrates the memory of late Nakamura Utaemon VI, the shűmei of Nakamura Matsue VI and the first stage appearance of his son Nakamura Tamatar˘ V.
  • Shigure Saigy˘: this dance shows an encounter between the poet-priest Saigy˘ and a courtesan at Eguchi. But the courtesan is actually a merciful Buddhist deity. Starring the Living National Treasure Sakata T˘jűr˘ as the courtesan and Nakamura Baigyoku as Saigy˘.
  • Ise Ondo: this play is famous for its classical depiction of a woman who must pretend to reject her lover for his sake and for the beautiful and gruesome dance-like killing scene at the end, done to the music of the Ise pleasure quarters. Fukuoka Mitsugi (Kataoka Nizaemon), a young apprentice at the holy Shrine of Ise tries to help find the stolen treasured sword of his clan out of duty to his former lord. Mitsugi has the sword in his possession, but must now find the certificate of authentication and in order to get it for him, Okon (Nakamura Tokiz˘), a courtesan who is in love with Mitsugi must pretend to forsake Mitsugi. But he believes that she has truly betrayed him and further angered by the humiliating accusations of Manno (Nakamura Fukusuke), the head maid of the Aburaya brothel, Mitsugi inadvertently draws the sword, said to be cursed, and the rampage begins.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Shibuya Bunkamura Theatre Cocoon (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 1 ~ 24 April 2006
    Program T˘kaid˘ Yotsuya Kaidan
    Casting

    Nakamura Kanzabur˘, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Nakamura Senjaku, Band˘ Yajűr˘, Kataoka Kamez˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Band˘ Shingo, Sasano Takashi

    Comments Seventh edition of the original Cocoon Kabuki performance, which recreates the atmosphere of the Edo koshibai and brings the actors closer to the audience. Tsuruya Nanboku IV's masterpiece "T˘kaid˘ Yotsuya Kaidan" is staged in 2 different productions; the first one is similar to the 1994 Coocon Kabuki, with Nakamura Kanzabur˘ playing the roles of Oiwa, Kobotoke Kohei and Sat˘ Yomoshichi, while Nakamura Hashinosuke plays the role of Tamiya Iemon; the second version includes the rarely-staged act IV, with its 2 scenes "the Misumi house in Fukagawa" and "the refuge of the Oshioda family", with Nakamura Kanzabur˘ playing the roles of Oiwa and Naosuke Gonbŕ, sharing the stage with Nakamura Hashinosuke (Tamiya Iemon, Oshioda Matanoj˘) and Nakamura Senjaku (Kobotoke Kohei, Sat˘ Yomoshichi).
    Misonoza (Nagoya)
    Dates 1 ~ 25 April 2006 (Y˘shun ďkabuki)
    Program

    Kajiwara Heiz˘ Homare no Ishikiri
    (Ishikiri Kajiwara)

    Honch˘ Nijűshik˘ (Kitsunebi)

    Kanjinch˘

    Casting

    Matsumoto K˘shir˘, Nakamura Shibajaku, Ichikawa Somegor˘, Ichikawa Komaz˘, Nakamura Karoku, Matsumoto Kingo, Kataoka Kamez˘, Band˘ Kametoshi

    Comments

    The highlight of this April program in Nagoya is the beautiful dance "Kitsunebi", starring Nakamura Shibajaku in the difficult role of Princess Yaegaki.

  • Ishikiri Kajiwara: the Heike general Kajiwara (Ichikawa Somegor˘) is asked to test the sharpness of a sword by slicing two live human beings in half. He deliberately makes the sword fail the test to keep the sword, a priceless heirloom belonging to the enemy Genji clan, from falling into the hands of his Taira clan. A miracle has convinced Kajiwara to change sides. Kajiwara finally demonstrates the true power of the sword by cutting a large stone basin in two.
  • Kitsunebi: magical foxes possess Princess Yaegaki (Nakamura Shibajaku) to help her stealing a precious helmet, the treasure of the Shingen clan, and to allow her to save the life of her beloved Katsuyori.
  • Kanjinch˘: probably the most popular Kabuki play today, it includes dance, comedy and the heart-warming pathos of a band of heroes during their last days. Disguised as a band of traveling priests the fugitive general Yoshitsune and his small band of retainers are stopped at a road barrier. They escape only through the quick thinking of the head retainer, a warrior priest named Musashib˘ Benkei, who improvises the text of an elaborate imperial decree. Having escaped danger Benkei and the others describe their days of glory and hardships on the road to escape in a moving dance. This program stars Matsumoto K˘shir˘ in the role of Benkei, with Nakamura Shibajaku and Ichikawa Somegor˘ as Yoshitsune and the barrier keeper Togashi.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Kanamaruza (Konpira)
    Dates 6 ~ 23 April 2006 (Shikoku Konpira Kabuki ďshibai)
    MatinÚe

    Kanadehon Chűshingura

  • Tepp˘ Watashi, Futatsudama
  • Kanpei Harakiri
  • Tsuki Yuki Hana Nagori no Bundai

  • Asazuma Bune
  • Makasho
  • Evening

    Ukiyozuka Hiyoku no Inazuma

  • Sanza R˘taku
  • Sayaate
  • Iro Moy˘ Chotto Karimame (Kasane)

    Casting

    Band˘ Mitsugor˘, Ichikawa Ebiz˘, Ichikawa Kamejir˘, Ichimura Kakitsu, Ichikawa Unosuke, Kataoka Ichiz˘, Band˘ Shűch˘

    Comments

    22nd edition of the Spring Kabuki performance Konpira Kabuki ďshibai at the Kanamaruza on Shikoku island.

  • Tepp˘ Watashi/Futatsudama/Kanpei Harakiri: this section of the classic "Kanadehon Chűshingura" is about Hayano Kanpei (Ichikawa Ebiz˘) and his wife Okaru (Ichikawa Kamejir˘). Kanpei survives as a hunter and is desperate for the money that will allow him to become a samurai again. He encounters two former retainers of Lord En'ya Hangan who offer to allow him to participate in a vendetta to avenge Lord En'ya Hangan's death by attacking K˘ no Moron˘. Unknown to him, though, Okaru's family has decided to raise the memory by selling her into prostitution as a courtesan in the Gion district of Ky˘to. Okaru's father travels on a dark mountain road, eager to bring the first half of the money to Kanpei. But he is attacked and robbed by Sadakur˘ (Ichikawa Ebiz˘), also a former retainer of Lord En'ya Hangan who has gone bad and become a thief. At this point, Kanpei aims and fires at s wild boar and instead kills Sadakur˘. He finds the purse with all the money and, thinking that is the gift of heaven, rushes home. At home, the brothel keeper is already there to collect Okaru and Kanpei wants to refuse to let her go, until he realizes where the money came from and believes that he killed Okaru's father by mistake. He urges Okaru to go to the pleasure quarters, not wanting her to know what has happened. In one of the dramatic highlights of the play, Kanpei commits suicide to atone for his multiple failures in duty.
  • Tsuki Yuki Hana Nagori no Bundai: ???
  • Ukiyozuka Hiyoku no Inazuma: originally based on a comic book which wittily showed the daily life of famous historical characters fallen on hard times, the full length play dramatized the stories of the handsome young samurai Nagoya Sanza and Shirai Gonpachi, creating the classical versions of these old characters that have become standard today. Nagoya Sanza was a flashy hero of the late 16th century who became the model of masculine beauty in the earliest days of Kabuki. The play also shows his lover Iwahashi, a lady-in-waiting in a samurai household who becomes a courtesan to be with her love and the darkly attractive Fuwa Banzaemon who is Sanzaĺs enemy because he killed Sanzaĺs father. The play shows the rivalries and fights within the samurai household that result in all these characters being thrown into the nightlife of Edoĺs pleasure quarters, then with exaggeration and grotesque humor shows Nagoya Sanzaĺs life as a masterless samurai. Finally, with swaggering movements and stately spectacle, it shows the confrontation of the two men in the middle of the Yoshiwara pleasure quarters with the cherry trees in full bloom. Starring Band˘ Mitsugor˘ as Nagoya Sanza, Ichikawa Kamejir˘ in three roles with fast changes as Iwahashi (later the courtesan Katsuragi), the maid Okuni and a woman who stops the fight between the two in the pleasure quarters, and Ichikawa Ebiz˘ as Fuwa Banzaemon.
  • Kasane: one can never escape past evils. Yoemon is fleeing to the countryside, but Kasane, the woman he abandoned, refuses to let him go. She catches up with him at a lonely river bank. A skull stabbed with a scythe appears and Kasane is possessed by its spirit, actually the spirit of her dead father, and her face suddenly becomes disfigured. She pours out her feelings of jealousy and resentment and Yoemon kills Kasane, but even after her death, he cannot escape her vengeful spirit. Starring Ichikawa Kamejir˘ as Kasane and Ichikawa Ebiz˘ as Yoemon.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Sh˘chikuza (ďsaka)
    Dates 4 ~ 11 April 2006 (Naniwa Hanagata Kabuki)
    MatinÚe

    Ise Ondo Koi no Netaba

    Afternoon

    Tsuchiya Chikara

    Osome Hisamatsu Ukina no Yomiuri
    (Osome no Goyaku)

    Evening

    Naniwa S˘j˘ki (ďshio Heihachir˘)

    Casting

    Nakamura Kanjaku, Kataoka Takatar˘, Kataoka Ainosuke, Band˘ Takesabur˘, Nakamura Kikaku, Band˘ Shinsha, Kataoka Shinnosuke, Kamimura Kichiya

    Comments

    3rd edition of the Naniwa Hanagata Kabuki April program, staged by a troupe of young Kamigata actors. The first program includes rarely-staged scenes. The third program is a newly-created drama.

  • Ise Ondo: this play is famous for its classical depiction of a woman who must pretend to reject her lover for his sake and for the beautiful and gruesome dance-like killing scene at the end, done to the music of the Ise pleasure quarters. Fukuoka Mitsugi (Kataoka Ainosuke), a young apprentice at the holy Shrine of Ise tries to help find the stolen treasured sword of his clan out of duty to his former lord. Mitsugi has the sword in his possession, but must now find the certificate of authentication and in order to get it for him, Okon (Kataoka Takatar˘), a courtesan who is in love with Mitsugi must pretend to forsake Mitsugi. But he believes that she has truly betrayed him and further angered by the humiliating accusations of Manno (Kamimura Kichiya), the head maid of the Aburaya brothel, Mitsugi inadvertently draws the sword, said to be cursed, and the rampage begins.
  • Tsuchiya Chikara: this play is a specialty of the Nakamura Ganjir˘ family and features the distinctive flashy acting of Kansai actors. This month it will be performed by the younger members of this acting line. One of many stories set on the theme of the revenge of the forty-seven loyal retainers features a lord named Tsuchiya Chikara (Nakamura Kanjaku) who lives next door to the enemy of the loyal retainers and is disgusted because they do not seem to be interested in avenging the death of the lord. He learns from his haiku teacher that ďtaka Gengo (Nakamura Kikaku), one of his students who should be part of the vendetta left a poem suggesting that he was forgetting his former lord and going to take service with another samurai lord. But in fact, this poem is a riddle hiding the secret of the vendetta. Featuring also Band˘ Takesabur˘, Band˘ Shinsha and Kamimura Kichiya.
  • Osome no Goyaku:
    The 5 roles of Osome
    A hayagawari dance, based on Tsuruya Nanboku IV's "Osome no Nanayaku" michiyuki. The story of the love suicide of Osome, the daughter of a wealthy merchant and Hisamatsu, a handsome young man that was an apprentice in her family's shop, is one of the most popular stories in Kabuki and was dramatized countless times. In 1813, Tsuruya Nanboku IV (1755~1829) wrote up this story as a showpiece for Iwai Hanshir˘ V, an onnagata specialist in female roles. In this dance, the five roles are Osome, Hisamatsu, Omitsu (Hisamatsu's official fiance), the thunder god (raijin) and a snake charmer named Oroku. Onnagata Kataoka Takatar˘ makes a virtuoso appearance in this dance, acting in all five roles, including the fastest on-stage fast change in all Kabuki. Featuring Kataoka Ainosuke and Kamimura Kichiya as two sarumawashi.
  • ďshio Heihachir˘: a new Kabuki drama, written by Okamoto Satoru, whose main character is the Neo-Confucianism scholar ďshio Heihachir˘ (1793~1837), famous for his fierce opposition to the Tokugawa Shogunate. This drama focuses on the 1837 events, when ďshio led an army consisting of his students, peasants and some outcasts into the city of ďsaka. They managed to burn about a fifth of the city before government troops put down the rebellion. Months later, ďshio committed suicide when he was found by the authorities. Starring Nakamura Kanjaku in the role of ďshio Heihachir˘. Featuring also Kataoka Ainosuke, Kataoka Takatar˘, Kamimura Kichiya, Band˘ Shinsha, Nakamura Kikaku and Kataoka Shinnosuke.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide website
    Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website for "Tsuchiya Chikara"

    Daigoji Temple (Ky˘to)
    Dates 27 ~ 29 April 2006 (Daigoji Takigi Kabuki)
    Program

    Ch˘gen Sh˘nin Yurai Kagami

    Sait˘ Goma | Hiire no Gi | Sh˘my˘

    Funa Benkei

    Casting

    Nakamura Tomijűr˘, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Kataoka Takatar˘, Kataoka Ainosuke

    Comments

    Original outdoors Kabuki performance, in the precincts of the famous Daigoji temple which is located on mount Atago. This performance mixes religious ceremonies and Kabuki dances. The first item commemorates Saint Ch˘gen.

    Minamiza (Ky˘to)
    Dates 19 ~ 25 April 2006 (Kabuki Kansh˘ Ky˘shitsu)
    Program

    Minamiza to Kabuki

    Sagi Musume

    Casting Kamimura Kichiya
    Comments

    14th edition of a pedagogical show in Ky˘to combining explanation for beginners (done by the professional storyteller Katsura Kujaku) and a dance-drama (performed by Kamimura Kichiya).

     
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