JANUARY 2011

2 in ďsaka (Sh˘chikuza), 7 shows in T˘ky˘ (National Theatre, Asakusa K˘kaid˘, Shinbashi Enbuj˘, Theatre Ginza) and 1 in Ky˘to (Minamiza)!

Sh˘chikuza (ďsaka)
Dates 2 ~ 26 January 2011 (Kotobuki Hatsuharu ďkabuki)
Congratulation Early Spring Grand Kabuki
MatinÚe

Tsuchiya Chikara

Otoko no Hanamichi

Evening

Hachijin Shugo no Honj˘

Kuruwa Bunsh˘ (Yoshidaya)

Edo no Yami Ayashi no Kagizume
(Akechi Kogor˘ to Ningenhy˘)

Casting

Sakata T˘jűr˘, Matsumoto K˘shir˘, Kataoka Gat˘, Nakamura Kanjaku, Kataoka Hidetar˘, Nakamura Senjaku, Ichikawa Somegor˘, Kataoka Shinnosuke

Comments

  • Tsuchiya Chikara: this play is a specialty of the Nakamura Ganjir˘ family and features the distinctive flashy acting of Kansai actors. This month it will be performed by the younger members of this acting line. One of many stories set on the theme of the revenge of the forty-seven loyal retainers features a lord named Tsuchiya Chikara (Nakamura Kanjaku) who lives next door to the enemy of the loyal retainers and is disgusted because they do not seem to be interested in avenging the death of the lord. He learns from his haiku teacher that ďtaka Gengo (Ichikawa Somegor˘), one of his students who should be part of the vendetta left a poem suggesting that he was forgetting his former lord and going to take service with another samurai lord. But in fact, this poem is a riddle hiding the secret of the vendetta. Featuring also Nakamura Senjaku.
  • Otoko no Hanamichi: this is a stage version of a popular movie. It is about the famous Kabuki actor, Kagaya Utaemon (Sakata T˘jűr˘). When he is about to lose his eyesight, he is saved when he happens to meet a doctor (Matsumoto K˘shir˘) who knows Western medicine at his inn. The two become fast friends. Several years later, when Utaemon is now the top star of the Kabuki theater, he gets an urgent summons from the doctor and the actor is faced with the dilemma of whether he should go to his friend and benefactor, even if it means missing his all important appearance on stage. Featuring also Nakamura Kanjaku and Kataoka Hidetar˘.
  • Hachijin: this is a jidaimono period piece that dramatizes true historical events. Kat˘ Kiyomasa (1562~1611) was one of the fiercest generals under Toyotomi Hideyoshi and continued to defend the family and Hideyoshiĺs young heir Hideyori even after the world came to be ruled by crafty Tokugawa Ieyasu, who searched for any excuse he could find to destroy the clan of his most powerful rival. In the Edo period, the Shogunate banned all mention of contemporary events on stage and was especially sensitive to all mention of the Toyotomi clan and anyone associated with it. On stage, Kat˘ Kiyomasa always appeared under the thinly disguised name of Sat˘ Masakiyo. In this play, the aged Masakiyo defends the young heir of his late lord when he is summoned to a meeting with an old feudal lord who now rules the land. Masakiyo does not budge from his post even when he is weakened by poison. It also shows the touching romance of Masakiyoĺs young son. Starring Kataoka Gat˘ and Kataoka Hidetar˘ as Masakiyo and Hinaginu (the wife of Masakiyo's son).
  • 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. Sakata T˘jűr˘ stars as Izaemon, a role that is a specialty of his family's Kansai acting style. Featuring Sakata T˘jűr˘'s son Nakamura Senjaku as Izaemon's lover, the courtesan ďgiya Yűgiri (Izaemon's lover) and Kataoka Gat˘ as the proprietor of the Yoshidaya teahouse.
  • Edo no Yami Ayashi no Kagizume: there are few writers who have been more popular than Edogawa Rampo (1894~1965). His pen name is based on Edgar Allan Poe and he introduced detective stories to Japan with his super detective Akechi Kogor˘. The writer also was a master of the grotesque and erotic and created characters with strange passions, masquerading as chairs to get close to the beloved, trying to preserve the bodies of beautiful men and women by turning them into perfect looking mannequins. In November 2008 a new Kabuki play that dramatizes one of Edogawa Rampoĺs most haunting and popular novels, "Ningen Hy˘" ("The Were-Panther"), was staged at the National Theatre. It is revived this month at the Sh˘chikuza. The story is about a man who has the lustful and bloodthirsty tastes of an animal and even resembles a leopard, with glittering eyes, huge mouth and sharp teeth. He stalks the women that are nearest and dearest to Kamiya Yoshinosuke and comes to battle the master detective Akechi Kogor˘. Starring Matsumoto K˘shir˘ as Akechi Kogor˘ and Ichikawa Somegor˘ as the villain and Kamiya Yoshinosuke. Featuring also Nakamura Senjaku.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide website
    Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website for "Tsuchiya Chikara" and "Otoko no Hanamichi"

    National Theatre (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 3 ~ 27 January 2011 (Hatsuharu ďkabuki)
    Early Spring Grand Kabuki
    Program

    Shitenn˘ Oedo no Kaburaya

    Casting

    Onoe Kikugor˘, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Onoe Kikunosuke, Onoe Sh˘roku

    Comments

    Revival at the National Theatre of Fukumori Kyűsuke I's long-forgotten kaomise drama "Shitenn˘ Oedo no Kaburaya", which was premiered in the 11th lunar month of 1815 in Edo at the Nakamuraza.

  • Shitenn˘ Oedo no Kaburaya: in the Edo period, actors were under contract to the Kabuki theaters for one year and the year began in November. This month of performances was called the kaomise or "face showing" production and always featured a newly written play which was a kind of loosely structured pageant to show off the new stars. For a number of years, the National Theatre has featured revivals of long-neglected plays for the New Years production. These plays have had scripts newly prepared and have been arranged to entertain modern audiences. January 2011 features a play on a grand scale, a historical spectacle combining larger-than-life heroes, beautiful women and leisurely comedy to bring the golden age of Kabuki back to life in the middle of Heisei Japan. It will feature festivities to celebrate the New Year and to begin the year with a ceremonial presentation of Kabuki theater. Kaomise plays had a number of conventions, the most important of which was that it had to be a dramatization of one of a limited number of story arcs. This one features the world of the demon quelling general Minamoto no Yorimitsu, also known as Raik˘ and his famous four warriors (the famous shitenn˘). It shows Raik˘ and his men confronting Yoshikado, the heir to the mysterious pretender to the imperial throne, Taira no Masakado in a play full of spectacle and marvelous incident. Starring Onoe Kikugor˘, Onoe Sh˘roku, Onoe Kikunosuke, Nakamura Tokiz˘ and other top stars of Kabuki.
  • Shinbashi Enbuj˘ (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 2 ~ 26 January 2011 (Kotobuki Hatsuharu ďkabuki)
    Congratulation Early Spring Grand Kabuki
    MatinÚe

    Gohiiki Kanjinch˘ (Ataka no Seki)

    Imoseyama Onna Teikin
    (Mikasayama Goten)

    Kotobuki Soga no Taimen

    Evening

    Kotobuki Shiki Sanbas˘

    Genpei Nunobiki no Taki
    (Sanemori Monogatari)

    Ukiyozuka Hiyoku no Inazuma

  • Sanza R˘taku
  • Sayaate
  • Casting

    Ichikawa Danjűr˘, Nakamura Kichiemon, Band˘ Mitsugor˘, Nakamura Shikan, Nakamura Tomijűr˘, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Nakamura Shibajaku, Nakamura Baigyoku, Nakamura Kaishun, Nakamura Fukusuke, Nakamura Kinnosuke, Ichikawa Danshir˘, Ichikawa Sadanji, Band˘ Yajűr˘, Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Kash˘, Nakamura T˘z˘, Nakamura Takanosuke

    Comments

  • Ataka no Seki: "Gohiiki Kanjinch˘" was first performed in 1773 and is most famous for its comic aragoto version of the famous play "Kanjinch˘" (The Subscription List). As they are fleeing, the powerful warrior priest Benkei (Nakamura Hashinosuke) gets his master Yoshitsune (Nakamura Kinnosuke) through the barrier by pretending to be very weak and allowing himself to be tied up. He cries like a baby when he is tormented by the barrier attendants. But when Benkei decides that his master is safe, he explodes with energy, showing off the bombastic aragoto style of acting. He breaks the ropes and pulls off the heads of the attendants, tossing them into a barrel and washing them like a bunch of potatoes. Featuring also Band˘ Yajűr˘ and Nakamura Karoku.
  • Mikasayama Goten: a fantastic Kabuki period play showing intrigues in the imperial court in the earliest days of Japan. The dictator Soga no Iruka (Ichikawa Sadanji) has set up his own court and now seeks to destroy his opponent Kamatari. A mysterious fisherman named Fukashichi (Ichikawa Danjűr˘) comes as a messenger from Kamatari, claiming to bring a message of surrender. Meanwhile, Iruka's younger sister, Princess Tachibana (Nakamura Shibajaku) has fallen in love with a handsome young man named Motome (Nakamura Shikan). But Motome is actually the son of Kamatari and says that he will only grant her love if she will cut off Iruka's head. Moreover, a country girl named Omiwa (Nakamura Fukusuke) has also followed Motome. Omiwa's blood and the work of all these people combined are what is necessary to finally defeat the magical powers of the evil Iruka.
  • Soga no Taimen: this is one of the oldest and most classical of all Kabuki plays. In the Edo period, every January, plays appeared about the vendetta carried out by the Soga brothers Jűr˘ and Gor˘ after eighteen years of hardship. In "Soga no Taimen" the brothers confront Kud˘ Suketsune, the man responsible for their father's death. More ceremony than play, it features each of the important Kabuki character types, including the bombastic aragoto style of Gor˘ and the soft wagoto style of Jűr˘. This month features a cast headed by Nakamura Kichiemon as Kud˘ and some of the most popular young stars in Kabuki with Band˘ Mitsugor˘ as Gor˘ and Nakamura Baigyoku as Jűr˘. Featuring also Nakamura Shibajaku, Nakamura Karoku and Nakamura Kash˘.
  • Kotobuki Shiki Sanbas˘: Okina is the oldest ritual in the theater. This Kabuki version shows Okina, an old man who symbolizes eternal youth, his attendant Senzai and the vigorous Sanbas˘, who perform dances solemnly for good fortune. Sanbas˘ dances vigorously, stamping and shaking bells, praying for agricultural fertility and prosperity for all. This dances features Band˘ Mitsugor˘, Nakamura Tomijűr˘/Nakamura Baigyoku and Nakamura Kaishun in the roles of the sanbas˘, the okina and the senzai.
  • Sanemori Monogatari: a play about the early days of the rivalry between the Genji and Heike warrior clans. The warrior Sait˘ Bett˘ Sanemori (Ichikawa Danjűr˘) has been charged by the leaders of the dominant Heike clan with finding Aoi Gozen (Nakamura Fukusuke), 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 (Nakamura Kaishun), 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. Featuring also Ichikawa Danshir˘ as Senoo Jűr˘.
  • Sanza R˘taku/Sayaate: a rare performance of a portion of a play by Tsuruya Nanboku IV about the handsome samurai Nagoya Sanza (Band˘ Mitsugor˘). In history he is famous for being the lover of Okuni, the woman who began Kabuki. It shows Sanza in a miserable dwelling as a poor masterless samurai cared for by Okuni (Nakamura Fukusuke), who has become a courtesan to support him. Then it switches to the colorful Yoshiwara pleasure quarters where Sanza confronts his rival in love, Fuwa Banzaemon (Nakamura Hashinosuke) and they exchange a series of sarcastic, poetic and stately speeches.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Asakusa K˘kaid˘ (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 2 ~ 26 January 2011 (Shinshun Hanagata Kabuki)
    New Year Young Actors Kabuki
    MatinÚe

    Sannin Kichisa Tomoe no Shiranami

    Koma

    Evening

    Tsubosaka Reigenki

    Kurotegumi Kuruwa no Tatehiki
    (Kurotegumi Sukeroku)

    Casting

    Ichikawa Kamejir˘, Kataoka Ainosuke, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Nakamura Kikaku

    Comments

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

  • Sannin Kichisa:
    (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 Nakamura Shichinosuke as Oj˘ Kichisa, Kataoka Ainosuke as Osh˘ Kichisa and Ichikawa Kamejir˘ as Ob˘ Kichisa.
  • Koma: there are many dances that show street performers and others peddlers that you might have seen on the streets of old Edo. This short, energetic dance accompanied by the Tokiwazu style of music features a top vendor (Ichikawa Kamejir˘), who sells her tops by performing various tricks.
  • Tsubosaka: this play stars Kataoka Ainosuke as Sawaichi, a blind masseur who has become utterly depressed by the prospect of never recovering his eyesight. His faithful wife, played by Nakamura Shichinosuke, has been praying to the Kannon goddess daily for several years for his recovery, and Sawaichi agrees to accompany her to the Kannon shrine to pray. Once there he announces he will stay to pray and fast for three days, and so his wife leaves to pick up some supplies for them, but in her absence, Sawaichi throws himself off a cliff. When she returns, the distraught wife decides to join her husband in death. The final scene shows the Kannon goddess, who miraculously saves the couple and cures Sawaichi's blindness.
  • Kurotegumi Sukeroku: this play by the 19th century playwright Kawatake Mokuami combines the sunny world of the Kabuki classic "Sukeroku", the handsome hero Sukeroku and his lover Agemaki, the top courtesan in the Yoshiwara, with his own dark world of thieves and absconding clerks and the ironic twists of karma. This production is the Ichikawa Ennosuke's version of "Kurotegumi Kuruwa no Tatehiki", which is more spectacular than the standard one, and stars Ichikawa Kamejir˘ in 3 roles with fast changes (hayagawari): Sukeroku, Ushiwaka Denji and the comic clerk Gonkur˘. The role of Agemaki is played by Nakamura Shichinosuke. Also starring Kataoka Ainosuke and Nakamura Kikaku.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website, except "Koma"

    Le Theatre Ginza (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 2 ~ 20 January 2011 (Band˘ Tamasabur˘ Tokubetsu K˘en)
    Band˘ Tamasabur˘ Special Performances
    Program

    Dan no Ura Kabuto Gunki (Akoya)

    Onna Date

    Casting

    Band˘ Tamasabur˘, Nakamura Shid˘, Ichikawa En'ya

    Comments

  • Akoya: the courtesan Akoya is the wife of the fugitive general Kagekiyo and has been captured and will be tortured until she reveals his whereabouts. But she claims not to know. The wise Shigetada (Nakamura Shid˘) puts Akoya to a test, all the time hindered by his companion, the humorous villain Iwanaga (Ichikawa En'ya). Shigetada forces Akoya to play several instruments since the slightest disturbance in the sound would indicate that she is lying. A showpiece for an onnagata who must actually play the koto, the bowed kokyű and the shamisen flawlessly as part of the drama. Starring Band˘ Tamasabur˘ as Akoya.
  • Onna Date: Band˘ Tamasabur˘ stars as a woman in the pleasure quarters who swaggers and fights in the finest gallant style but who has a delicate sense of femininity as well.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Minamiza (Ky˘to)
    Dates 3 ~ 23 January 2011 (Zenshinza K˘en)
    Program

    K˘j˘

    Musume Gonomi Ukina no Yokogushi (Kirare Otomi)

    Casting

    Nakamura Umenosuke, Arashi Keishi, Kawarasaki Kunitar˘, Fujikawa Yanosuke, Arashi Yoshisabur˘, Yamazaki Tatsusabur˘, Nakamura Seinosuke, Anegawa Shinnosuke, Ikushima Kigor˘, Matsunami Kihachir˘

    Comments

    Arashi Yoshisabur˘ VII celebrates his shűmei in Ky˘to at the Minamiza, playing the role of Yosabur˘ in the drama "Kirare Otomi":

  • K˘j˘: the close relationship between the actors and the audience is shown by these stage announcements, lavish ceremonies to commemorate various important events. In this case, all the Zenshinza stars of the cast assemble to celebrate the shűmei of Arashi Yoshisabur˘ VII.
  • Kirare Otomi: there are many plays in Kabuki that take some famous classic and change it around so that a very masculine character becomes a female character with both the strength of the original and a feminine delicacy and grace. The story of scarfaced Yosabur˘ is popular in Kabuki. Yosabur˘ is the handsome young son of a wealthy family, but he falls in love with Otomi, the mistress of a gang boss and ends up being cut up and tossed overboard at sea, together with Otomi. He survives, terribly scarred, and becomes a criminal. He goes to blackmail a woman who seems to be kept by a wealthy merchant only to discover that it is Otomi. In this version, it is Otomi that is scarred and who becomes a blackmailer. Starring Kawarasaki Kunitar˘ as Otomi, Nakamura Umenosuke as the gang boss and Arashi Yoshisabur˘ as Yosabur˘.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

     
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