JULY 2006

3 shows in T˘ky˘ (Kabukiza, National Theatre), 2 in ďsaka (Sh˘chikuza) and 3 tours (Eastern Provinces, Central Provinces, Zenshinza)!

Kabukiza (T˘ky˘)
Dates 7 ~ 31 July 2006 (Shichigatsu ďkabuki)
MatinÚe

Yasha-ga-Ike

Kaijin Bess˘

Evening

Yamabuki

Tenshu Monogatari

Casting

Band˘ Tamasabur˘, Ichikawa Ebiz˘, Ichikawa Danjir˘, Ichikawa Ukon, Ichikawa Emisabur˘, Ichikawa Monnosuke, Ichikawa En'ya, Ichikawa Shun'en, Nakamura Karoku, Band˘ Shinsha

Comments

A great summer program, which celebrates the playwright Izumi Ky˘ka (1873~1939), with 3 of his most famous dramas, "Yasha-ga-Ike", "Kaijin Bess˘" and "Tenshu Monogatari". All of them are depicting fantastic worlds of demonic gods, princesses, handsome warriors under the sea, on top of a castle tower or at the bottom of a cold mountain lake:

  • Yasha-ga-Ike: a cold, forbidding lake deep in the mountains contains a secret. It is ruled by a fierce beauty, Princess Shirayuki who longs to join her lover in another mountain lake. But she is constrained by a promise to stay there and keep the waters of the lake tame as long as the temple bell is rung regularly each day. To keep this promise and drawn by the beauty of Yuri, a village girl, Akira, a scholar from T˘ky˘, has become the bell ringer. He was drawn by the folklore of the countryside, little knowing that fate is about to transform him into one of its legends. Starring Ichikawa Shun'en as Yuri and Princess Shirayuki and Ichikawa Danjir˘ as Akira.
  • Kaijin Bess˘: a handsome prince (Ichikawa Ebiz˘) rules in a palace under the sea. He marries a beauty (Band˘ Tamasabur˘), the daughter of a wealthy family living on the seashore. She learns the relative values of riches on sea and on land when she learns that her family sacrificed her life out of greed for the wealth of the sea.
  • Yamabuki: this short play is appearing at Kabukiza for the first time, but its powerful and concise psychological portraiture has made many modern writers and critics reconsider Izumi Ky˘ka and regard him as a modern master. A painter (Ichikawa Danjir˘), the wife of a nobleman who is running from her husband (Ichikawa Emisabur˘) and a drunken puppeteer (Nakamura Karoku), encounter each other in a country inn. The woman begs the men to take care of her and surprisingly, finds a sympathetic bond with the puppeteer as they discover a common feeling of guilt and desire for punishment.
  • Tenshu Monogatari: "Tenshu Monogatari" creates the romantic and fantastic atmosphere for which the playwright is famous. Princess Tomi (Band˘ Tamasabur˘), a mysterious immortal spirit in Himeji Castle, lives in an elegant feminine world of her own at the top of the castle tower. But an encounter with the handsome young warrior Zushonosuke (Ichikawa Ebiz˘) brings her into the world of human beings and she is moved to sacrifice all to help him.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Sh˘chikuza (ďsaka)
    Dates 2 ~ 26 July 2006 (Shichigatsu ďkabuki)
    MatinÚe

    Shinshű Kawanakajima Kassen (Terutora Haizen)

    Renjishi

    K˘j˘

    Natsu Matsuri Naniwa Kagami

  • Sumiyoshi Torii Mae
  • Tsuribune Sabu Uchi
  • Nagamachi Ura
  • Evening

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

    Ky˘ganoko Musume D˘j˘ji

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

    Casting

    Sakata T˘jűr˘, Kataoka Nizaemon, Onoe Kikugor˘, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Nakamura Jakuemon, Kataoka Gat˘, Kataoka Hidetar˘, Nakamura Kanjaku, Kataoka Takatar˘, Ichikawa Danshir˘, Band˘ Takesabur˘, Ichikawa Danz˘, Kataoka Ainosuke, Kawarazaki Gonjűr˘, Ichikawa Unosuke, ďtani Tomoemon, Ichimura Kakitsu, Kataoka Shinnosuke, Nakamura Kazutar˘

    Comments

    Sakata T˘jűr˘ celebrates his shűmei in ďsaka, playing the roles of Danshichi Kurobŕ and the shiraby˘shi Hanako in the drama "Natsu Matsuri" and the dance "Musume D˘j˘ji".

  • Terutora Haizen: a rare performance of a historical play by Chikamatsu Monzaemon. The warlord Nagao Terutora (Kataoka Gat˘) wants the services of the great strategist Yamamoto Kansuke who is now the strategist for his rival Takeda Shingen. The wife of one of Terutora's retainers is Kansuke's sister and so Terutora invites Kansuke's wife and mother to see her. When the two women arrive, Terutora brings the food tray himself and knowing what he has in mind, the old woman Koshiji (Band˘ Takesabur˘) kicks it. The furious Terutora wants to kill them all, but is restrained by Kansuke's wife Okatsu (Kataoka Hidetar˘), who desperately defends her mother, despite the fact that she cannot speak and must express herself in koto music instead.
  • 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 Nakamura Kanjaku in the role of the parent shishi and his son Nakamura Kazutar˘ in the role of the cub.
  • K˘j˘: there is a close relationship between the stage and the audience in Kabuki and this is shown by these ceremonial stage announcements where the top stars of the company address the audience directly. This month, the actors celebrate the shűmei of Sakata T˘jűr˘.
  • Natsu Matsuri: this grisly murder story became a smashing hit when it was first performed in 1745 because of the chivalrous spirit of the many ďsaka characters appearing in this story, the contrast between a brutal murder and the jovial mood of a summer festival, and the splashing of real water used on the stage. Danshichi, a gallant fishmonger, does everything he can to protect the weak young son of his patron with the help of his companion Tokubŕ and the older Sabu. Although even Tokubŕ's wife Otatsu heroically helps out, in the end, Danshichi is betrayed by his evil father-in-law Giheiji and, in the most famous scene of the play, must kill him in a mud-covered fight in a lonely alley with the shouts of the local festival nearby. This program stars Sakata T˘jűr˘ as Danshichi, with Kataoka Nizaemon, Kataoka Gat˘ and Onoe Kikugor˘ as Tokubŕ, Sabu and Otatsu.
  • 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 Kataoka Nizaemon as Lord ďkura and Kataoka Hidetar˘ as Tokiwa Gozen.
  • Musume D˘j˘ji: a beautiful young woman dances under cherry blossoms at a dedication ceremony for a temple bell. She dances the many aspects of a woman in love, but is actually the spirit of a serpent, driven to destroy the bell out of jealousy. In addition to being the most famous of all Kabuki dances, "Musume D˘j˘ji" is considered to be the pinnacle of the art of the onnagata. The role of the shiraby˘shi Hanako is played by Sakata T˘jűr˘.
  • Sakanaya S˘gor˘: S˘gor˘ (Onoe Kikugor˘), 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.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    National Theatre (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 3 ~ 24 July 2006 (Shichigatsu Kabuki Kansh˘ Ky˘shitsu)
    Program

    Hikosan Gongen Chikai no Sukedachi (Keya-mura)

    Casting

    Nakamura Baigyoku, Nakamura Shibajaku, Nakamura Matsue, Nakamura Utae

    Comments

    Educational program at the National Theatre called Kabuki Kansh˘ Ky˘shitu ("Kabuki Appreciation Class"). This is a very interesting formula for the beginners because there is lively presentation of Kabuki (or some aspects of the art like music, stage tricks or fighting scenes) on stage, followed by the drama "Keya-mura":

    Rokusuke (Nakamura Baigyoku), a sword master who lives a simple country life, is taking care of a small foundling child. He hangs the boy's kimono outside his house in the hope that the boy's relatives will see it and know where he is. One day he finds himself attacked by a woman named Osono (Nakamura Shibajaku) who turns out to be the aunt of the child. As they talk, they find that they are in fact linked by promises of marriage although they have never met directly. Osono is searching for the killer of her father, Rokusuke's master, and Rokusuke promises to help in her vendetta.

    Kabuki Tour in the Central Provinces
    Dates 30 June ~ 31 July 2006
    Program

    Kanjinch˘

    Casting

    Matsumoto K˘shir˘, Ichikawa Komaz˘, Ichikawa Somegor˘, Sawamura S˘nosuke, Matsumoto Kingo, Band˘ Kamesabur˘, Band˘ Kametoshi

    Comments

    "Kanjinch˘" is probably the most popular Kabuki play today, it includes dance, comedy and the heart-warming pathos of a band of heroes during their last days. Disguised as a band of traveling priests the fugitive general Yoshitsune and his small band of retainers are stopped at a road barrier. They escape only through the quick thinking of the head retainer, a warrior priest named Musashib˘ Benkei, who improvises the text of an elaborate imperial decree. Having escaped danger Benkei and the others describe their days of glory and hardships on the road to escape in a moving dance. This program stars Matsumoto K˘shir˘ in the role of Benkei (his best atariyaku), with Ichikawa Komaz˘ and Ichikawa Somegor˘ as Yoshitsune and the barrier keeper Togashi.

    Kabuki Tour in the Eastern Provinces
    Dates 30 June ~ 31 July 2006
    MatinÚe

    Honch˘ Nijűshik˘ (Jusshuk˘)

    K˘j˘

    Migawari Zazen

    Evening

    K˘j˘

    Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura

  • Ko-no-Mi
  • Kokingo Uchijini
  • Sushiya
  • Casting

    Nakamura Kanzabur˘, Nakamura Senjaku, Nakamura Genzaemon, Kataoka Ichiz˘, Kataoka Kamez˘, Band˘ Yajűr˘, Nakamura Shinobu, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Band˘ Shingo

    Comments

    Nakamura Kanzabur˘ celebrates his shűmei in the Eastern provinces, playing the roles of Uky˘ and Gonta in "Migawari Zazen" and "Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura".

  • Jusshuk˘: Princess Yaegaki is mourning the death of his fiance Katsuyori, but as she burns incense in his memory, she notices the resemblance between the new gardener and her fiance's portrait. The gardener is in fact Katsuyori, who has entered the household of Yaegaki's father to regain the possession of a stolen family treasure, a famous helmet, with the help of Nureginu, a woman who also mourns for the man that died in the place of the real Katsuyori. Unfortunately, Yaegaki's father has also seen through the disguise and plans to kill Katsuyori. The role of Princess Yaegaki, one of the most important onnagata roles, is played by Nakamura Senjaku, supported by Nakamura Shichinosuke and Nakamura Shinobu in the roles of Katsuyori and Nureginu.
  • K˘j˘: there is a close relationship between the stage and the audience in Kabuki and this is shown by these ceremonial stage announcements where the top stars of the company address the audience directly. For this tour, the actors celebrate the shűmei of Nakamura Kanzabur˘.
  • Migawari Zazen: A dance play adopted from a classical ky˘gen farce. Uky˘ (Nakamura Kanzabur˘) wants nothing more than to visit his lover Hanako, but he has one important problem, his homely and overbearing wife (Band˘ Yajűr˘). He creates a scheme saying that he will be practicing zen meditation all night and has his servant take his place while he visits Hanako. He returns, giddy from a night of pleasure and tells his story to his servant in dance, unaware that his wife has discovered his deception and has taken his servant's place.
  • Ko-no-Mi / Kokingo Uchijini: Wakaba-no-Naishi (Band˘ Shingo), the wife of the Heike warrior Koremochi, travels with her young son and their retainer Kokingo (Nakamura Shichinosuke), searching for her husband. While resting in a small mountain village, they are met by Gonta (Nakamura Kanzabur˘), a local bully who skillfully cons them out of their money. Later, they are attacked by Genji forces, and, in a spectacular fight, Kokingo sacrifices himself to save his mistress and her son.
  • Sushiya: Gonta's father Yazaemon (Band˘ Yajűr˘) runs a sushi shop, but was formerly a retainer of Koremochi. With his clan defeated, Koremochi (Nakamura Senjaku) now lives with Yazaemon's family disguised as a humble apprentice named Yasuke. Innocently, Yazaemon's daughter Osato (Nakamura Shichinosuke) is in love with him. But knowing of the bounty on Koremochi's head, her brother Gonta kills him and turns his wife and child over to the Genji commander. Furious at his son, Yazaemon stabs him, but before his death, Gonta reveals that he only pretended to kill Koremochi and sacrificed his own wife and son to save the real Koremochi and his family.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Zenshinza Tour
    Dates 1 ~ 31 July 2006
    Program

    K˘j˘

    ďmi no Okane

    Sakura Giminden

    Casting

    Arashi Keishi, Kawarazaki Kunitar˘, Segawa Kikunoj˘, Fujikawa Yanosuke, Yamazaki Ryűnosuke, Yamazaki Tatsusabur˘, Osagawa Genjir˘, Anegawa Shinnosuke, Kiriyama Rish˘

    Comments

  • K˘j˘: there is a close relationship between the stage and the audience in Kabuki and this is shown by these ceremonial stage announcements where the top stars of the company address the audience directly. For this tour, the actors celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Zenshinza troupe.
  • ďmi no Okane: Okane was a famous strong woman living on the shores of Lake Biwa and is known for stopping a runaway horse with her bare hands. This has become a Kabuki dance that combines strength and charming femininity. This production stars Kawarazaki Kunitar˘ as Okane.
  • Sakura Giminden: this play is rare among classics in having a political theme. It depicts a country landlord Kiuchi S˘g˘ (Arashi Keishi) who cannot stand the suffering of the farmers around him. A series of bad harvests has made things very hard, but corrupt officials refuse to lower taxes or relent in any way. Finally, S˘g˘ decides to bring the case directly to the Sh˘gun, a move punishable by death. The play shows S˘g˘ as he persuades the old keeper of the river crossing (Fujikawa Yanosuke) to let him pass and says a final farewell to his wife Osan (Segawa Kikunoj˘) and children. Meanwhile, he is watched by a villainous informer, Maboroshi no Ch˘kichi. Finally, S˘g˘ brings his case directly to the Sh˘gun, knowing that whether he is successful or not, he will be executed.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

     
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