DECEMBER 2020

2 shows in Ky˘to (Minamiza) and 6 in T˘ky˘ (Kabukiza, National Theatre)!

Minamiza (Ky˘to)
Dates 5 ~ 19 December 2020
Kichirei Kaomise K˘gy˘
Annual Festive Face-Showing Performances
1st program

Ayatsuri Sanbas˘

Keisei Hangonk˘ (Domo Mata)

2nd program

Kotobuki Ninin Sh˘j˘

Ichi-no-Tani Futaba Gunki (Kumagai Jin'ya)

3rd program

Suehirogari

Kuruwa Bunsh˘ (Yoshidaya)

Casting

Living National Treasure Kataoka Nizaemon, Living National Treasure Kataoka Hidetar˘, Nakamura Ganjir˘, Nakamura Senjaku, Matsumoto K˘shir˘, Nakamura Kinnosuke, Kataoka Takatar˘, Band˘ Takesabur˘, Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Kazutar˘, Nakamura Kikaku, Kataoka Shinnosuke, Kamimura Kichiya, Kataoka Sennosuke, Nakamura Hayato, Nakamura Yonekichi, Onoe Ukon, Nakamura Toranosuke, Nakamura Takanosuke, Nakamura Jűjir˘, Kataoka Matsunosuke, Kamimura Kichitar˘, Sawamura Kuniya

  • Ayatsuri Sanbas˘:
    (The Puppet Sanbas˘)
    The Sanbas˘ is part of the ritual play "Okina", a prayer for prosperity and in Kabuki the vigorous Sanbas˘ dance is often performed separately. To make the dance especially auspicious, the old man Okina and attendant Senzai appear as well. In Kabuki, the Sanbas˘ dance appears in all kinds of versions. In this particular version, the Sanbas˘ is actually a giant marionette (Nakamura Takanosuke), dancing lightly until his antics tangle his strings, creating problems for his puppeteer (Sawamura Kuniya).
  • 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 Ganjir˘ as Matahei and Nakamura Senjaku as his wife Otoku. Featuring Nakamura Jűjir˘ as Matahei's master Tosa Sh˘gen Mitsunobu and Kamimura Kichiya as Sh˘gen's wife Kita-no-Kata.
  • Sh˘j˘: the sh˘j˘ is a mythical sake-loving spirit that lives in the sea. In this dance, a sake seller has a mysterious customer that appears daily and drinks enormous amounts with great satisfaction. The sake seller has a dream with instructions to go by the beach with a large tub of sake. As it turns out, the customer has actually been the sh˘j˘ in disguise. The dance shows two sh˘j˘ as they drink and dance joyfully. Starring Nakamura Hayato and Kataoka Sennosuke as the sh˘j˘ and Nakamura Kikaku as the sake seller.
  • Kumagai Jin'ya: this play is a dramatization of the clash between the Genji general Kumagai Jir˘ Naozane and the Heike warrior Taira no Atsumori at the battle of Ichi-no-Tani, one of the most famous passages of the epic "Tales of the Heike". In the Kabuki version, on the cryptic orders of the Genji leader Yoshitsune, Kumagai hides the enemy warrior Atsumori and has his own son take the warrior's place. On the battlefield, Kumagai has to kill his own son in Atsumori's place. Things become worse when his wife Sagami and Atsumori's mother Fuji-no-Kata arrive at his camp. In the highlight of the play, he tells them the story of his mortal battle with Atsumori, keeping Atsumori's well-being and his own sacrifice a secret. He then shows the head of Atsumori for inspection by his leader to see if he has interpreted his orders correctly. This performance stars Living National Treasure Kataoka Nizaemon as Kumagai, with Kataoka Takatar˘ as Kumagai's wife Sagami, Living National Treasure Kataoka Hidetar˘ as Fuji-no-Kata, Nakamura Kinnosuke as Yoshitsune and Nakamura Karoku as Midaroku.
  • Suehirogari:
    (An Open Fan)
    A female warlord (Nakamura Yonekichi) asks her servant Tar˘kaja (Onoe Ukon) to deliver a message expressing her love. Tar˘kaja is appalled at her repeated request, but she is so earnest that she prays to the god of marriage that she might be united with her lover. She dances with Tar˘kaja, imagining the day when she can drink nuptial cups with her lover.
  • Yoshidaya: the roots of this play go back to the earliest days of Kabuki. Izaemon, the son of a wealthy family, has been disowned for loving a courtesan and now has nothing but a paper kimono. This role is a classic example of the wagoto or soft style of acting that is one of the representative acting styles of the Kansai region. Matsumoto K˘shir˘ and Nakamura Kazutar˘ star as Fujiya Izaemon and the courtesan ďgiya Yűgiri (Izaemon's lover).
  • Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

    Comments

    The traditional kaomise in Ky˘to at the Minamiza. First Kabuki performances in Ky˘to since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.

    National Theatre (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 3 ~ 26 December 2020
    1st Program

    Sannin Kichisa Tomoe no Shiranami

    2nd Program

    Kumo ni Magou Ueno no Hatsuhana (K˘chiyama)

    Tsuru Kame

    Yuki no Shakky˘

    Casting

    Matsumoto Haku˘, Nakamura Shikan, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Nakamura Baigyoku, Nakamura Fukusuke, Band˘ Yajűr˘, Onoe Sh˘roku, ďtani Tomoemon, Ichikawa Komaz˘, Band˘ Kamez˘, Matsumoto Kingo, Nakamura Kangyoku, Ichikawa Somegor˘, Band˘ Shingo, Nakamura Matsue, Nakamura Mantar˘, Nakamura Fukunosuke, Nakamura Utanosuke, Band˘ Kamez˘

    Comments

    The December Grand Kabuki at the National Theatre in two programs:

  • Sannin Kichisa:
    (Three Thieves Named Kichisa)
    The late 19th century playwright Kawatake Mokuami excelled at plays about thieves and this play is considered to be one of his greatest. Three thieves, all with the name Kichisa, meet on a riverbank. Oj˘ Kichisa (Nakamura Tokiz˘) was once a Kabuki onnagata and robs in the guise of a woman. Ob˘ Kichisa (Onoe Sh˘roku) is a handsome young man while Osh˘ Kichisa (Nakamura Shikan) has more weight and stature as the head of a derelict temple. Though they start out as rivals, they decide to become blood brothers and form a gang. The three are bound by fate in many ways, with the crimes of one leading to hardship of the family of another. But the same sins and crimes also lead to rescue and salvation. The play combines dark drama with the most beautiful of poetry. In the famous scene on a riverbank Oj˘ Kichisa kills a young prostitute and then speaks in the playwrightĺs famous rhythmical speech of the moon on a hazy night and the gold coins that have fallen into his hands. Soon, these gold coins will link together the three thieves named Kichisa, and in turn, draw these three into a larger drama of crime and retribution. The play combines the playwright Kawatake Mokuami's gritty depiction of the lowest levels of society with intoxicatingly beautiful music and poetry to bring life to his vision of the cycles of sin and retribution.
  • K˘chiyama: the tea priest K˘chiyama (Matsumoto Haku˘) is a skilled thief and extortionist, but cannot turn down a request to help those in need. He disguises himself as a high-ranking priest to try to gain the freedom of a girl held by a powerful samurai lord (Nakamura Baigyoku) because she will not become his mistress. Using the famous poetic cadences of the late 19th century playwright Mokuami, K˘chiyama not only succeeds in his mission to rescue the girl, but he manages to extort a fair amount for himself. Featuring also Band˘ Yajűr˘, ďtani Tomoemon and Ichikawa Komaz˘.
  • Tsuru Kame: the crane (tsuru) is said to live for a thousand years, the tortoise (kame) is said to live for ten thousand years. Together, they are a traditional symbol of longevity. There is no particular plot to this play, but simply shows a visit by the empress to the Moon Pavilion where two courtiers dance as the spirits of the crane and tortoise. Starring Nakamura Fukusuke as the empress, Nakamura Fukunosuke as the spirit of the crane and Nakamura Utanosuke as the spirit of the tortoise.
  • Yuki no Shakky˘:
    (The Stone Bridge in the Snow)
    There are many plays about shishi or lion spirits in the Asian tradition, but the shishi is not actually a lion, it is a mythical animal that guards the stone bridge (Shakky˘) leading to the Buddhist paradise of Monju, the god of wisdom. For this version of "Shakky˘", the scene is set in a in a snowy landscape. Featuring Ichikawa Somegor˘ in the role of the shishi.
  • Sources: Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

    Kabukiza (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 1 ~ 26 December 2020
    Jűnigatsu ďkabuki
    December Grand Kabuki
    1st program

    Yayoi no Hana Asakusa Matsuri

    2nd program

    Shinjű Tsukiyo no Hoshinoya

    3rd program

    Keisei Hangonk˘ (Domo Mata)

    4th program

    Nihon Furisode Hajime (Orochi Taiji)

    Casting

    Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘, Onoe Kikunosuke, Nakamura Kankur˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Ichikawa Ennosuke, Kataoka Ainosuke, Ichikawa Chűsha, Kataoka Ichiz˘, Kataoka Kamez˘, Onoe Matsuya, Nakamura Baishi, Ichikawa En'ya, Nakamura Tsurumatsu, Ichikawa Danko, Nakamura Baika

    Comments

    The December Grand Kabuki at the Kabukiza with 4 programs.

  • Asakusa Matsuri: in the Edo period, there were virtuoso sets of dances with one actor changing from character to character with a series of spectacular quick changes (hengemono). This is a set of four dances, all featuring Kataoka Ainosuke and Onoe Matsuya in a series of roles. It begins in the ancient past with Empress Jing˘ and her aged minister Takeuchi Sukune. It is said that the empress delayed the birth of her child, the emperor, so that she could conduct an attack on the Asian continent. Then the scene changes to the exuberant Sanja festival and shows two fishermen who discover a sacred statue in a river. Suddenly, the fishermen are possessed by the spirits of Good and Evil and dance vigorously. The scene switches to the pleasure quarters with two patrons, a sophisticated urban playboy and a clumsy unfashionable man. Finally it ends on a fantastic note with the two dancers as lion spirits.
  • Shinjű Tsukiyo no Hoshinoya: this is a newly written play adapted from a rakugo story. Teruz˘ (Ichikawa Chűsha) has lost his money in a speculative venture. He and his concubine Otaka (Nakamura Shichinosuke) promise to commit shinjű, 'lovers' double suicide', but when the time comes he alone jumps into the river and she returns home as her mother recommended. Later, T˘suke (Kataoka Kamez˘) tells her that Teruz˘'s ghost appeared warning that he will haunt her. Terrified, she takes the tonsure and becomes a nun, after which Teruz˘ himself reappears. The double suicide was Teruz˘'s test of her sincerity.
  • 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 Kankur˘ as Matahei and Ichikawa Ennosuke as his wife Otoku. Featuring Kataoka Ichiz˘ as Matahei's master Tosa Sh˘gen Mitsunobu.
  • Orochi Taiji: this dance is a rare example of a story from ancient Japanese mythology adapted for the Kabuki theater. As part of an annual ritual, Princess Inada (Nakamura Baishi) has been chosen to be sacrificed to a fierce serpent that lives in the mountains of Izumo. The serpent (Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘) arrives in the guise of a beautiful princess, but before it can attack it is attracted to eight jars full of sake. The jars are a trap planted by the god Susanoo (Onoe Kikunosuke), who confronts the beast in its true form as an eight-headed serpent, to save the princess.
  • Sources: Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

     
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