JANUARY 2008

6 shows in T˘ky˘ (Kabukiza, National Theatre, Asakusa K˘kaid˘, Shinbashi Enbuj˘), 2 in ďsaka (Sh˘chikuza) and 1 in Ky˘to (Minamiza)!

Kabukiza (T˘ky˘)
Dates 2 ~ 26 January 2008 (Kotobuki Hatsuharu ďkabuki)
MatinÚe

Sh˘j˘

Kiichi H˘gen Sanryaku no Maki
(Ichij˘ ďkura Monogatari)

Keisei Hama no Masago (Onna Goemon)

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

Omatsuri

Evening

Kakuju Senzai

Renjishi

Sukeroku Yukari no Edo Zakura

Casting

Ichikawa Danjűr˘, Nakamura Kichiemon, Nakamura Jakuemon, Matsumoto K˘shir˘, Nakamura Tomijűr˘, Nakamura Shikan, Nakamura Baigyoku, Ichikawa Danshir˘, Nakamura Kaishun, Kataoka Takatar˘, Nakamura Fukusuke, Ichikawa Sadanji, Nakamura T˘z˘, Nakamura Kinnosuke, Ichikawa Somegor˘, Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Kash˘, Matsumoto Kingo, Ichikawa Komaz˘

Comments

2008 is an important year for the Kabukiza, which will celebrate its 120th anniversary. The year starts with an amazing program, which includes the revival of "Onna Goemon" and the staging of the great play "Sukeroku":

  • 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 Baigyoku and Ichikawa Somegor˘ as the sh˘j˘ and Nakamura Matsue as the sake seller.
  • Ichij˘ ďkura Monogatari: the world is ruled by Taira no Kiyomori, the leader of the Heike clan. Tokiwa Gozen, the widow of the head of the defeated Genji clan and mother of Yoritomo and Yoshitsune, the future leaders of the clan, has become the mistress of the dictator Kiyomori, then the wife of Lord ďkura, a seemingly simple-minded fool who spends all his time watching pretty women dance. Outraged members of the Genji clan sneak into Lord ďkura's mansion only to discover that Tokiwa Gozen's immorality and Lord ďkura's idiocy are a guise, the only way to survive in a world ruled by the enemy. This performance stars Nakamura Kichiemon as Lord ďkura, Nakamura Fukusuke as Tokiwa Gozen, Nakamura Baigyoku as Yoshioka Kijir˘ and Nakamura Kaishun as Yoshioka's wife Oky˘.
  • Onna Goemon: the larger-than-life thief Ishikawa Goemon looking out at the world he is going to rule only to be confronted by the great general Hisayoshi, about to take over Japan, is one of the most spectacular scenes in Kabuki. January features a special version of this scene with a courtesan in place of Goemon featuring Living National Treasure Nakamura Jakuemon, the oldest actor on the Kabuki stage today, and Nakamura Kichiemon in the role of Hisayoshi.
  • Sakanaya S˘gor˘: S˘gor˘ (Matsumoto K˘shir˘), 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.
  • Omatsuri: Ichikawa Danjűr˘ as a gallant fireman boss at a festival telling a rueful tale of failure in love and showing the vigorous work songs of firefighters.
  • Kakuju Senzai: an elegant dance to celebrate the New Year, with Nakamura Tomijűr˘ as the male crane and Nakamura Shikan as the female crane.
  • Renjishi: 2 entertainers dance a tale of the legendary shishi or lion-like spirits that live at the foot of a holy Buddhist mountain. There is a comic interlude with 2 Buddhist pilgrims. Then, the shishi themselves appear and perform their dance with wild shaking of their long manes. The dance shows a parent shishi forcing his cub to undergo harsh training in order to grow up strong. This theme is often associated with the training a parent actor gives his son. This performance features Matsumoto K˘shir˘ in the role of the parent shishi and his son Ichikawa Somegor˘ in the role of the cub.
  • Sukeroku: the dandy Sukeroku is the most famous patron of the Yoshiwara pleasure quarters. But his reputation as the lover of Agemaki, the highest ranking courtesan in the quarter is matched by that of his tendency to pick fights. In fact, Sukeroku is the samurai Soga no Gor˘ in disguise, and he uses the fights to find a lost heirloom sword. His search takes place in the colorful atmosphere of the Yoshiwara where processions of beautiful courtesans compete with the splendor of cherry blossoms in full bloom. All the top stars in Kabuki appear in a procession of beautiful, exciting and amusing roles. Starring Ichikawa Danjűr˘ as Sukeroku, one of his most popular roles and featuring Nakamura Fukusuke as the courtesan Agemaki and Living National Treasure Nakamura Shikan as Gor˘'s mother Mank˘.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Sh˘chikuza (ďsaka)
    Dates 2 ~ 26 January 2008 (Kotobuki Hatsuharu ďkabuki)
    MatinÚe

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

    Sasaki Takatsuna

    Imohori Ch˘ja

    Igagoe D˘chű Sugoroku (Numazu)

    Evening

    Gosho Zakura Horikawa no Youchi (Benkei J˘shi)

    Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura (Yoshinoyama)

    Koi Bikyaku Yamato ďrai (Fűin Giri)

    Casting

    Sakata T˘jűr˘, Band˘ Mitsugor˘, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Kataoka Gat˘, Nakamura Kanjaku, Nakamura Senjaku, Kataoka Hidetar˘, Band˘ Yajűr˘, Kamimura Kichiya, Kataoka Shinnosuke

    Comments

  • 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 Nakamura Kanjaku as Yasuna.
  • Sasaki Takatsuna: This is a modern play by Okamoto Kid˘ (1872 - 1939) who is famous for inventing the Edo Period style detective story. Sasaki Takatsuna shows one of the top warriors in the battles that established the Kamakura shogunate and how he gradually becomes disillusioned with the world of lies and political intrigue. Starring Kataoka Gat˘ in the role of Takatsuna.
  • Imohori Ch˘ja:
    (The Sweet-Potato-digging Millionaire)
    The widow of the Matsugae family (Band˘ Shűch˘) who reigns over the district gives a dance party to choose a husband for her daughter Midori Gozen (Nakamura Senjaku). 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.
  • Numazu: a dramatization of one of the most famous historical vendattas of the Edo period. "Numazu" is one act that tells of the sacrifices of those not directly involved in the vendetta itself but members of the same family who are indebted to the two opposing sides. The kimono merchant Jűbŕ (Sakata T˘jűr˘) meets a porter Heisaku (Kataoka Gat˘) as he travels west on business. They find that not only are they long-separated father and son, but that they also lie on opposite sides of the vendetta. Their loyalties prevent them from openly acknowledging their relationship. Heisaku sacrifices his life to get information from his son essential to his side's cause.
  • Benkei J˘shi:
    (Benkei the Emissary)
    Benkei (Nakamura Hashinosuke), the warrior-priest who served Yoshitsune, is the subject of many plays and legends. He is said to have slept with a woman only once and also to never have cried. In this play, he is forced to be the emissary to tell Yoshitsune's wife, Ky˘-no-Kimi (Band˘ Shingo), that she must die, since the fact that her father was a member of the vanquished enemy clan is throwing a suspicion on the loyalty of Yoshitsune. The others try to find someone to die in Ky˘-no-Kimi's place and ask Shinobu (Band˘ Shingo), a serving woman. But her mother, Owasa (Nakamura Senjaku), a seamstress in the mansion absolutely refuses until Shinobu meets her father. Benkei says that he is the father and the tragedy reaches a climax as he recalls his one tryst and weeps as having to kill his daughter.
  • Yoshinoyama: a dance travel scene from the epic "Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura". Now in exile and disgrace, Yoshitsune has left his lover Shizuka in the safekeeping of his trusted retainer Tadanobu. But she is unaware that this Tadanobu is actually a magical fox who has disguised himself to be near the treasured drum that Shizuka carries, a drum made from the skins of his fox parents. Starring Band˘ Mitsugor˘ as Tadanobu, Sakata T˘jűr˘ as Shizuka and Nakamura Hashinosuke as Hayami no T˘ta.
  • Fűin Giri:
    (Breaking the Seals)
    In the pleasure quarters, the most important possessions were money and reputation. In danger of losing his lover, the courtesan Umegawa, the money courier Kameya Chűbŕ breaks the seals on a package of money entrusted to him after being taunted by a rival, even though the use of such money is punishable by death. Starring Nakamura Kanjaku as Chűbŕ, Nakamura Senjaku as Umegawa and Nakamura Hashinosuke as Chűbŕ's treacherous friend Tanbaya Hachiemon.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    National Theatre (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 3 ~ 27 January 2008 (Hatsuharu ďkabuki)
    Program

    Komachi-mura Shibai no Sh˘gatsu

    Casting

    Onoe Kikugor˘, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Sawamura Tanosuke, Band˘ Hikosabur˘, Onoe Kikunosuke, Onoe Sh˘roku

    Comments

    Revival at the National Theatre of Sakurada Jisuke I's kaomise drama "Komachi-mura Shibai no Sh˘gatsu", which was staged for the first time in the 11th lunar month of 1789 at the Nakamuraza and was never revived before this 2008 production!

    In the Edo period, every November was the beginning of the theatrical year and all the Kabuki plays competed with gala plays to show off the new company for that season. This was the kaomise or "face showing" performance. Since these plays were usually more like spectacular events than fine dramas, most of those plays were never performed again, no matter how good. In January, the National Theatre is boldly reviving one of these plays for the first performance in 219 years. "Komachi-mura Shibai no Shogatsu" was first performed at the Nakamuraza in Edo as the kaomise in 1789 by master playwright Sakurada Jisuke I. It is a spectacular play on a grand scale, showing a struggle between two imperial princes for the imperial throne and the almost magical powers of the great poet Ono no Komachi, also considered one of the greatest beauties of her time. In ancient times, Komachi was such a famous figure that she became the subject of many plays, one in which her poetry called forth rain and another in which a jealous rival tried to defeat her by claiming that a poem she wrote was actually plagiarized from an old poetic anthology. She proved her innocence by washing the book of the anthology and showing that the fresh ink of the supposedly old poem easily washed away. For many years now, Living National Treasure Onoe Kikugor˘ has opened the year with adventurous new productions and January 2008 looks like it will be the most spectacular of them all. Also featuring Nakamura Tokiz˘, Onoe Sh˘roku and Onoe Kikunosuke.

    Source: Earphone Guide website

    Shinbashi Enbuj˘ (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 2 ~ 27 January 2008 (Hatsuharu Hanagata Kabuki)
    Program

    Narukami Fud˘ Kitayama Zakura

    Casting

    Ichikawa Ebiz˘, Nakamura Shibajaku, Ichikawa Monnosuke, Ichikawa Danjir˘, Ichikawa Emisabur˘, Ichikawa Shun'en, Ichikawa En'ya, Kataoka Ichiz˘, Ichikawa Unosuke, ďtani Tomoemon, Sawamura S˘nosuke

    Comments

    T˘shi ky˘gen production of the spectacular drama "Narukami Fud˘ Kitayama Zakura", which includes "Kenuki", "Narukami" and "Fud˘" (which all belong to the Kabuki Jűhachiban). Ichikawa Ebiz˘ plays the roles of Kumedera Danj˘, the wicked priest Narukami, Prince Hayagumo, Abe Kiyoyuki and the Deity Fud˘ My˘˘. The role of Princess Taema is played by Nakamura Shibajaku. This program celebrates the 1070 anniversary of the Naritasan temple, where the Deity Fud˘ My˘˘ is worshipped.

    Asakusa K˘kaid˘ (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 2 ~ 27 January 2008 (Hatsuharu Hanagata Kabuki)
    MatinÚe

    Keisei Hangonk˘ (Domo Mata)

    Benten Musume Meo no Shiranami

  • Hamamatsuya
  • Inasegawa Seizoroi
  • Evening

    Gion Sairei Shink˘ki (Kinkakuji)

    Yowa Nasake Ukina no Yokogushi (Kirare Yosa)

  • Misome
  • Genjidana
  • Casting

    Ichikawa Kamejir˘, Kataoka Ainosuke, Ichikawa Omez˘, Nakamura Shid˘, Nakamura Kantar˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Nakamura Kikaku

    Comments

    The yearly show for young promising actors at the Asakusa K˘kaid˘ in the heart of Asakusa, a lively and colorful neighboorhood that keeps the scent of old Edo.

  • 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 Kantar˘ as Matahei and Ichikawa Kamejir˘ as his wife Otoku.
  • Benten Musume: this play is a sewamono (realistic play about commoners) written by the late 19th century playwright Mokuami who is famous for his plays about thieves. The thief Benten Koz˘ dresses up as a woman to commit extortion, but his plans are ruined when his disguise is seen through. In the highlight of the play, he undresses, showing his colorful tattoos and introduces himself in a famous poetic speech. Afterwards, he is joined by the members of his gang on a riverbank, and, using the playwright's famous poetic rhythms, in turn, they each boast of their careers as thieves. Nakamura Shichinosuke stars as Benten Koz˘, with Kataoka Ainosuke as Nippon Daemon, Nakamura Shid˘ as Nang˘ Rikimaru, Ichikawa Kamejir˘ as Tadanobu Rihei and Nakamura Kantar˘ as Akaboshi Jűzabur˘.
  • Kinkakuji: "Kinkakuji" retains the epic scale of plays adapted from the Bunraku puppet theater and is full of miracles and larger-than-life characters common on the puppet stage. It is full of the classical forms of all kinds of stylized characters and the role of Princess Yuki is considered to be one of the most difficult and beautiful roles for an onnagata female role specialist. Matsunaga Daizen (Nakamura Shid˘) has defeated the Sh˘gun and has set up base in the Golden Pavilion. The brilliant strategist Hisayoshi, disguised as a disgruntled retainer named T˘kichi (Nakamura Kantar˘), pretends to come under Daizen's employ to try to sabotage his plans from within. Princess Yuki (Ichikawa Kamejir˘) is being held prisoner by Daizen, but is able to free herself by drawing a mouse in the cherry petals of the tree that she is tied to. It comes to life and chews the ropes holding her. Starring the best of the actors in their prime in a production sure to be full of fire and excitement.
  • Kirare Yosa: Yosabur˘ (Kataoka Ainosuke), the refined young son of a wealthy merchant falls in love with Otomi (Nakamura Shichinosuke) the moment he first sees her on the beach. But Otomi is the mistress of a powerful gangster, and when their relationship is discovered, the two are attacked. Yosabur˘ is cut from head to toe and the two are dumped into the sea. Otomi lives and is taken in by a rich merchant while Yosabur˘ is now covered with scars. Yosabur˘ turns into a petty thief and extortionist but one day, finds that the woman he is about to blackmail is none other than Otomi, alive and well.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Minamiza (Ky˘to)
    Dates 3 ~ 22 January 2008 (Zenshinza K˘en)
    Program

    Sannin Kichisa Tomoe no Shiranami

    Casting

    Kawarazaki Kunitar˘, Segawa Kikunoj˘, Fujikawa Yanosuke

    Comments

    (Three Thieves Named Kichisa)
    The playwright Kawatake Mokuami excelled at portrayals of thieves and this short scene, with its music and poetic lines, is one of his most famous. A beautiful young woman helps out a woman who is lost on the road. But she is actually Oj˘ Kichisa, a male thief who is disguised as a woman. He steals an immense sum of money that the woman is carrying and this leads to an encounter on this riverbank of three thieves, all with the name Kichisa. The two others Kichisa are Osh˘ Kichisa, a bonze turned thief, and Ob˘ Kichisa, an ex-samurai turned thief Though they start out as rivals, they decide to become blood brothers and form a gang. Featuring Kawarazaki Kunitar˘ as Oj˘ Kichisa, Fujikawa Yanosuke as Osh˘ Kichisa and Segawa Kikunoj˘ as Ob˘ Kichisa.

     
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