APRIL 2007

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

Kabukiza (T˘ky˘)
Dates 2 ~ 26 April 2007 (Shigatsu ďkabuki)
MatinÚe

Ataru Toshi Iwau Harukoma

Yoritomo no Shi

Meoto D˘j˘ji

Kiichi H˘gen Sanryaku no Maki (Kikubatake)

Evening

Genpei Nunobiki no Taki
(Sanemori Monogatari)

K˘j˘

Futatsu Ch˘ch˘ Kuruwa Nikki (Sum˘ba)

Shin Sarayashiki Tsuki no Amagasa
(Sakanaya S˘gor˘)

Casting

Nakamura Kinnosuke, Nakamura Kanzabur˘, Nakamura Tomijűr˘, Nakamura Kichiemon, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Kataoka Nizaemon, Nakamura Shikan, Nakamura Jakuemon, Nakamura Baigyoku, Nakamura Kaishun, Kataoka Gat˘, Kataoka Hidetar˘, Nakamura Fukusuke, Nakamura Kash˘, Band˘ Yajűr˘, Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura T˘z˘, Nakamura Shid˘, Nakamura Kantar˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Matsumoto Kingo, Kataoka Sennosuke

Comments

Nakamura Shinjir˘ takes the name of Nakamura Kinnosuke II at the Kabukiza, playing the roles of Toraz˘/Ushiwakamaru, Ch˘kichi/Yogor˘ and Isobe Kazunosuke in "Kikubatake", "Sum˘ba" and "Sakanaya S˘gor˘".

  • Ataru Toshi Iwau Harukoma: (Spring Hobbyhorses and the Soga Brothers)
    The story of the revenge of the Soga brothers (sogamono) is one of the favorite themes of Kabuki. Here it is transformed into a fanciful dance using hobbyhorses, children's toys that were one of the sights of the New Year. Starring Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Shid˘, Nakamura Kantar˘ and Nakamura Shichinosuke.
  • Yoritomo no Shi: a play by Mayama Seika first presented in 1932. Minamoto no Yoritomo created a strong warrior government, but died very soon, leaving things to his son Yoriie (Nakamura Baigyoku). But Yoriie feels that there is something suspicious about his fatherĺs death and is in torment because even though he is supposed to be the most powerful man in the land, no one will tell him anything. It ends with a confrontation with his mother H˘j˘ Masako (Nakamura Shikan), who is ready to kill her own son rather than let the truth out that could destroy their rule. She declares that a man has only one short life, but the clan must survive to the end of time.
  • Meoto D˘j˘ji: "Musume D˘j˘ji" is based on a legend about a woman transformed into a serpent out of jealousy and who destroys a temple bell keeping her from the object of her love. The original dance shows the spirit of the woman who appears at D˘j˘ji temple as a dancer who wants to celebrate the dedication of a new bell and does a series of dances showing the many faces of femininity. In this version there are two dancers and one is revealed to be a man in disguise and, in the highlight of the dance, transforms the romantic highpoint of the original piece into a comic scene by using masks. Starring Nakamura Kanzabur˘ as the female dancer and Kataoka Nizaemon as the male dancer.
  • Kikubatake: it is a great classic of period play Kabuki originally adapted from the Bunraku puppet theatre, full of larger-than-life characters and a stage full of dazzling color. In a garden of brilliant yellow and white chrysanthemums, there is Kiichi (Nakamura Tomijűr˘), an elderly strategist working for the dictator Kiyomori, his beautiful daughter Minazuru (Nakamura Tokiz˘) and two footmen, the elegant young Toraz˘ (Nakamura Kinnosuke) and the powerful Chienai (Nakamura Kichiemon). But in fact, Toraz˘ is a young general from the enemy side here to steal Kiichiĺs secrets of strategy. Chienai is his retainer. But Kiichi has realized why they are there and also knows that Chienai is actually his younger brother. At the same time, Minazuru has fallen deeply in love with Toraz˘.
  • Sanemori Monogatari: a play about the early days of the rivalry between the Genji and Heike warrior clans. The warrior Sait˘ Bett˘ Sanemori (Kataoka Nizaemon) has been charged by the leaders of the dominant Heike clan with finding Aoi Gozen, the pregnant wife of the leader of the enemy Genji clan. He is to kill her child if it is a son who can succeed to head of the clan, but old loyalties to the Genji lead him to protect the boy. Sanemori tells the story of how Koman, the daughter of the old couple who is protecting Aoi Gozen, bravely fought to protect the sacred standard of the Genji from the Heike. Koman mysteriously comes back to life when her severed arm is rejoined to it.
  • 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 shűmei of Nakamura Kinnosuke II.
  • Sum˘ba: "Futatsu Ch˘ch˘" means "two butterflies" and also comes from the fact that two sum˘ wrestlers who play important roles in the full length play have names beginning with "ch˘": Ch˘kichi and Ch˘gor˘. In order to help his master buy out the contract of the beautiful Azuma, the senior wrestler Nuregami Ch˘gor˘ throws a match, letting the younger wrestler Hanaregoma Ch˘kichi win, hoping to get his help. But Ch˘kichi loses his temper and the two end up competing in a test of pride. Starring popular actor Nakamura Tomijűr˘ as Ch˘gor˘ and Nakamura Kinnosuke as Ch˘kichi.
  • Sakanaya S˘gor˘: S˘gor˘ (Nakamura Kanzabur˘), a fish seller, has taken a vow to not drink, but when he learns about his sister's unjust murder at the hands of a daimy˘ lord, a death that they were told was execution for her wrongdoing, he starts to drink again. Drunk, he storms into the lord's mansion to seek an apology. This play by Meiji playwright Kawatake Mokuami is known for its realistic portrayal of members of the common class during the Edo period and highlights their fierce pride and frustration at the privileges of the dominant samurai class.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Misonoza (Nagoya)
    Dates 2 ~ 24 April 2007 (Y˘shun ďkabuki)
    Program

    Kamikakete Sango Taisetsu

    Imohori Ch˘ja

    Casting

    Band˘ Mitsugor˘, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Onoe Kikunosuke

    Comments

  • Kamikakete Sango Taisetsu: this play is a blend of "Chűshingura" with its tangled stories of loyalties and masterless samurai that ultimately avenge their master's death and the story of "Godairiki", about the love between a geisha named Koman and the samurai Satsuma Gengobŕ which is spoiled by the jealousy of a man named Sangor˘. Sasano Sangor˘ (Nakamura Hashinosuke) is married to Koman (Onoe Kikunosuke), but she becomes a geisha to help him to raise the money to help his lord, a man that he has never seen. In the pleasure quarters the samurai Satsuma Gengobŕ (Band˘ Mitsugor˘) falls in love with her and spends huge sums of money on her, despite the fact that he needs money for the sake of the "Chűshingura" vendetta. Finally Gengobŕ gets money and Sangor˘ and Koman decide to defraud him of the money, which results in a massacre in the pleasure quarters. Ironically, Gengobŕ is none other than the unknown master for whom Sangor˘ was trying to raise money. This story of passion and greed takes place against the background of inexplicable fate and the strict requirements of samurai society and adds ample doses of sardonic humor, the perfect play for our times.
  • Imohori Ch˘ja:
    (The Sweet-Potato-digging Millionaire)
    The widow of the Matsugae family who reigns over the district gives a dance party to choose a husband for her daughter Midori Gozen (Onoe Kikunosuke). They plan to choose the man who dances the best. T˘gor˘ (Band˘ Mitsugor˘) the potato digger comes with his friend Jirokur˘ (Nakamura Hashinosuke) pretending to be the best dancer in Japan. In contrast to T˘gor˘, Jirokur˘ is a good dancer and he knows that T˘gor˘ is ardently in love with Midori Gozen. Jirokur˘ wears a mask and dances pretending to be T˘gor˘. Then asked to dance without a mask, T˘gor˘ dances badly. The widow accepts Jirokur˘'s suggestion and orders Midori Gozen to dance with T˘gor˘ and Jirokur˘. Unable to dance well, T˘gor˘ begins to express potato digging in dance. The people have never seen such an interesting dance and praise his dance to be the best in Japan. T˘gor˘ reveals his true identity and apologizes to them, but Midori Gozen would rather marry T˘gor˘ the potato digger than the best dancer. Finally they all dance expressing potato digging and congratulate T˘gor˘ and Midori Gozen.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Kanamaruza (Konpira)
    Dates 12 ~ 25 April 2007 (Shikoku Konpira Kabuki ďshibai)
    MatinÚe

    Sh˘fudatsuki Kongen Kusazuri

    Ashiya D˘man ďuchi Kagami (Kuzu-no-Ha)

    Hanabusa Shűjaku no Shishi

    Evening

    Keisei Hangonk˘ (Domo Mata)

    K˘j˘

    Meoto D˘j˘ji

    Casting

    Sakata T˘jűr˘, Nakamura Kanjaku, Nakamura Senjaku, Kataoka Ainosuke, Kataoka Takatar˘

    Comments

    23rd edition of the Spring Kabuki performance Konpira Kabuki ďshibai at the Kanamaruza on Shikoku island.

  • Kusazuri:
    (the Tug-of-War Over the Armor)
    A short dance in the oldest style of Kabuki, leisurely and full of humor, combining the charm of an onnagata female role specialist with the larger-than-life heroism of the bombastic aragoto style of acting. The strong woman Maizuru stops the powerful, but rash, warrior Soga no Gor˘ from rushing to a fight by pulling on the set of armor he is carrying. Starring Kataoka Takatar˘ and Nakamura Kanjaku as Maizuru and Gor˘.
  • Kuzu-no-Ha: Abe no Yasuna, a court astrologer in disgrace, has married a beautiful woman named Kuzu-no-Ha, not knowing that she is actually a fox that has taken human form to repay his kindness in saving his life. The couple has a child and lives happily together until the real woman whose form the fox borrowed appears. Knowing that she can no longer stay, Kuzu-no-Ha writes a tearful farewell poem on the paper screen and returns to the wilderness. Starring Nakamura Senjaku as Kuzu-no-Ha and Kataoka Ainosuke as Yasuna.
  • Shűchaku Jishi: lion dances (shishi) show a vigorous masculine spirit that is the guardian of a sacred mountain in China. But the Kabuki tradition transforms this fierce dance into a showpiece for an elegant female role specialist. Living National Treasure Sakata T˘jűr˘ stars as a top-ranking courtesan elegantly in a banquet parlor who is then transformed into a feminine version of the spirit of the lion.
  • Domo Mata: the artist Matahei has been refused a professional name because of his stuttering. He makes a poor life by drawing folk paintings and decides to make one last effort to gain respectability. His wife Otoku, who is given as much to chatter as Matahei is silent, pleads his case. Turned down again by his master, Matahei decides to take his life. He draws a farewell portrait of himself, a painting so skillful that the lines seep through solid rock and this miracle convinces his master to confer a professional name. Starring Nakamura Kanjaku as Matahei and Sakata T˘jűr˘ as his wife Otoku.
  • 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˘ is led by Sakata T˘jűr˘.
  • Meoto D˘j˘ji: "Musume D˘j˘ji" is based on a legend about a woman transformed into a serpent out of jealousy and who destroys a temple bell keeping her from the object of her love. The original dance shows the spirit of the woman who appears at D˘j˘ji temple as a dancer who wants to celebrate the dedication of a new bell and does a series of dances showing the many faces of femininity. In this version there are two dancers and one is revealed to be a man in disguise and, in the highlight of the dance, transforms the romantic highpoint of the original piece into a comic scene by using masks. Starring Kataoka Takatar˘ as the female dancer and Kataoka Ainosuke as the male dancer.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Sh˘chikuza (ďsaka)
    Dates 1 ~ 8 April 2007 (Naniwa Hanagata Kabuki)
    MatinÚe

    Katakiuchi Tengajaya-mura

    Afternoon

    Ame no Gor˘

    Iro Moy˘ Chotto Karimame (Kasane)

    Sonezaki Shinjű

    Evening

    Natsu Matsuri Naniwa Kagami

  • Sumiyoshi Torii Mae
  • Tsuribune Sabu Uchi
  • Nagamachi Ura
  • Casting

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

    Comments

    4th edition of the Naniwa Hanagata Kabuki April program, staged by a troupe of young Kamigata actors.

  • Tengajaya: "Tengajaya" was first performed in 1781 in ďsaka, dramatizing a true event that occurred over a century earlier. It is in the classical vengeance play form, following the sufferings of the brothers Iori (Nakamura Senjaku) and Genjir˘ (Nakamura Kikaku) as they search for T˘ma (Kataoka Ainosuke), the killer of their father. Iori first falls ill and then is wounded by the enemy and finally ends up living in a shack as a beggar where he is killed by the enemy. But the real reason for the continuing popularity of this is not due to the historical incident, which has long since been forgotten, nor because it is a vengeance play since there are other, much more popular vendetta plays. Originally the role of the servant Motoemon (Nakamura Kanjaku), a retainer of Iori's family who goes over to the enemy side was very small, but the actor ďtani Tomoemon IV transformed it into a brilliant, virtuoso role. At first Motoemon is supposed to guard his lord, but fails due to his weakness for drink. He promises his brother Yasuke (Band˘ Shinsha) to stop drinking, but is tricked by the enemy into getting dead drunk and during this time, T˘ma kills his lord. Motoemon is ready to kill himself to atone, but instead decides to go to the enemy side. There is no trick he will not stoop to, in order to turn things to his advantage. For example, Motoemon tells his brother (who is still loyal to Iori) that he has become blind due to illness, no doubt punishment for his evil arts, and asks for charity. But in fact, he soon sneaks in, kills his brother and wounds Iori, all in order to protect his new lord T˘ma. But in the end, Genjir˘ avenges his father's death with the help of former retainers of his father's clan.
  • Ame no Gor˘: Soga no Gor˘ is one of the most famous heroes in the Kabuki world, super-strong and quick to fight. However, this dance shows the soft side of this hero as well as he travels nightly to the pleasure quarter to visit his lover. Starring Kataoka Shinnosuke as Gor˘.
  • 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 Kataoka Takatar˘ as Kasane and Kataoka Ainosuke as Yoemon.
  • Sonezaki Shinjű: a young merchant named Tokubŕ has long been in love with the courtesan Ohatsu and is diligently trying to buy out her contract. But he is swindled out of his money by someone he considered a friend. Then he is beaten and humiliated in the precincts of the Ikutama shrine. He sneaks into the teahouse where Ohatsu is and she hides him under the veranda. At this point, Tokubŕ's "friend" comes and calls him a criminal. Ohatsu fiercely defends Tokubŕ and asks whether he is prepared to defend his honor by committing love suicide. Silently, from under the veranda, he holds her bare foot and draws it across his neck. The journey to the forest where they commit love suicide is like a dream, half-way between this world and the next and has some of the most famous lines in Japanese theatre: "Farewell to this world and to this night, farewell. To what should we who go to our deaths be likened? We are like the frost on the road leading to the graveyard, vanishing with each step". Starring Nakamura Kanjaku and Nakamura Senjaku in the roles of Tokubŕ and Ohatsu.
  • Natsu Matsuri: this grisly murder story became a smashing hit when it was first performed in 1745 because of the chivalrous spirit of the many ďsaka characters appearing in this story, the contrast between a brutal murder and the jovial mood of a summer festival, and the splashing of real water used on the stage. Danshichi, a gallant fishmonger, does everything he can to protect the weak young son of his patron with the help of his companion Tokubŕ and the older Sabu. Although even Tokubŕ's wife Otatsu heroically helps out, in the end, Danshichi is betrayed by his evil father-in-law Giheiji and, in the most famous scene of the play, must kill him in a mud-covered fight in a lonely alley with the shouts of the local festival nearby. This program stars Kataoka Ainosuke as Danshichi, with Nakamura Kikaku, Nakamura Kanjaku and Nakamura Senjaku as Tokubŕ, Sabu and Otatsu.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Minamiza (Ky˘to)
    Dates 20 ~ 26 April 2007 (Kabuki Kansh˘ Ky˘shitsu)
    Program

    Minamiza to Kabuki

    Meisaku Hidari Kogatana (Ky˘ Ningy˘)

    Casting

    Kamimura Kichiya, Kataoka Shinnosuke

    Comments

    15th edition of a pedagogical show in Ky˘to combining explanation for beginners (done by the professional storyteller Katsura Kujaku) and the dance-drama "Ky˘ Ningy˘", starring Kamimura Kichiya and Kataoka Shinnosuke in the roles of the spirit of the doll and Hidari Jingor˘.

     
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