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