|NAMIKI GOHEI I|
Pen name: Namikinoya
Line number: SHODAI (I)
Existence: 1747 ~ 2nd day of the 2nd lunar month of 1808
Master: Namiki Shôzô I
Disciples: Namiki Gohei II, Namiki Iwazô, Namiki Kôsuke, Namiki Takichi, Namiki Hanzô, Namiki Fûji, Namiki Raiji, Namiki Miyosuke, Namiki Washichi, Namiki Jûzô
1747: born in Ôsaka in the district of Doshômachi. His father is a theater gatekeeper. He starts his career as a disciple of the playwright Namiki Shôzô I and his first pen name is Namiki Gohachi (using 3 different writings for Gohachi).
4th lunar month of 1777: premiere of Gohachi's drama "Tenmangû Natane no Gokû", co-written with Nakamura Akei and Tatsuoka Mansaku, which is produced by Ogawa Kichitarô I at the Kado no Shibai [casting].
11th lunar month of 1777: Namiki Gohachi takes the name of Namiki Gohê at the Kado no Shibai, where he works with Nakamura Akei and Tatsuoka Mansaku on the kaomise drama "Ôiri Kabuki no Tsuitachi", which is produced by Ogawa Kichitarô I and celebrates the shûmei of Shibazaki Rinzaemon II.
4th lunar month of 1778: premiere in Ôsaka at the Kado no Shibai of Gohê's play "Kinmon Gosan no Kiri", which is produced by the zamoto Ogawa Kichitarô I with with Arashi Hinasuke I and Onoe Kikugorô I playing the roles of Ishikawa Goemon and Mashiba Hisayoshi [casting].
5th lunar month of 1784: the play "Katsuragawa Renri no Shigarami", which was originally written in the 10th lunar month of 1776 by Suga Sensuke for the puppet theater, is adapted for Kabuki for the first time by Gohê, and staged in Ôsaka at the Naka no Shibai [casting].
7th lunar month of 1787: Namiki Gohê takes the name of Namiki Gohei.
2nd lunar month of 1794: premiere at the Naka no Shibai of Gohei's drama "Shima Meguri Uso no Kikigaki"; the last scenes are a sewamono drama, which will be staged independently in the 5th lunar month of 1794 under the title "Godairiki Koi no Fûjime" [more details].
1800: Gohei goes back to Edo.
2nd day of the 2nd lunar month of 1808: Gohei dies in Edo.
"Namiki Gohei, born in Ôsaka in 1747, was the chief playwright of his time.
His plays were so much in demand in the theatres of the three towns that he travelled
back and forth a great deal. He was patronised by Sawamura Sôjûrô, the third, and also
wrote for the third Onoe Kikugorô. After the death of the third Sôjûrô, Namiki wrote for
his son, the fourth Sôjûrô, and for the fifth Matsumoto Kôshirô.
As he had been an actor in his early days, he knew something of the stages of Ôsaka and Edo, that had
many different characteristics, and he combined the two.
In using historical material, Gohei felt the cramping influence of the authorities,
and he skilfully combined the true with the false facts of history. Popular rumours
of the day, gossip that went on round the hibachi in the dwellings of Edo,
were prohibited from finding representation on the stage, and consequently Gohei
utilised the talk of the town as false reports, and the audience knowing the true
inwardness of things that had been circulated far and wide, could easily understand
"He started the custom of presenting two separate plays, a historical drama and a domestic drama, on the same program rather than one long play. Namiki’s works are valued for their logical plot structure and emphasis on rational rather than emotional content." (Encyclopædia Britannica)
That the business of playwriting was not very lucrative seems to be suggested from the fact that Gohei once kept a tobacco shop in Ôsaka, later becoming a seller of sake.
In Edo he also opened a little medicine shop and sold pills, an old-fashioned Chinese remedy for colds. His excursions into business could not have been to his liking, but due rather to forced circumstances, since he is on record as having said when he sat down before his desk: "All the world is my own. No enemy is near me. All the actors are my own, and I can use them as I like."
Namiki Gohei I
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