JULY 2010

4 shows in T˘ky˘ (Shinbashi Enbuj˘, National Theatre, Akasaka Act Theater), 2 in ďsaka (Sh˘chikuza), 1 in Matsumoto (Matsumoto Performing Arts Centre) and 3 tours (Eastern Provinces, Central Provinces, Zenshinza)!

Sh˘chikuza (ďsaka)
Dates 3 ~ 27 July 2010 (Shichigatsu ďkabuki)
July Grand Kabuki
MatinÚe

Imoseyama Onna Teikin
(Mikasayama Goten)

Oharame Kuniiri Yakko

Genroku Chűshingura
(Ohama Goten Tsunatoyo-ky˘)

Evening

Futatsu Ch˘ch˘ Kuruwa Nikki

  • Izutsuya
  • Komeya
  • Nanba Ura Koroshi
  • Hikimado
  • Iyasakae Shibai no Nigiwai (D˘tonbori Shibai-mae)

    Ry˘ma ga Yuku

    Casting

    Kataoka Nizaemon, Nakamura Kanjaku, Kataoka Ainosuke, Kataoka Takatar˘, Ichikawa Sadanji, Kamimura Kichiya, Band˘ Takesabur˘, Ichikawa Danjir˘, Ichikawa Somegor˘, Ichikawa Emisabur˘, Ichikawa Shun'en, Ichikawa En'ya

    Comments

  • Mikasayama Goten: a fantastic Kabuki period play showing intrigues in the imperial court in the earliest days of Japan. The dictator Soga no Iruka has set up his own court and now seeks to destroy his opponent Kamatari. A mysterious fisherman named Fukashichi (Kataoka Ainosuke) comes as a messenger from Kamatari, claiming to bring a message of surrender. Meanwhile, Iruka's younger sister, Princess Tachibana (Ichikawa Shun'en) has fallen in love with a handsome young man named Motome (Ichikawa Danjir˘). 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 (Kataoka Takatar˘) 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.
  • Oharame Kuniiri Yakko: this dance shows a charming country girl who sells firewood played with the comic mask of Kagura shrine entertainments. Then, with a fast change on stage, the performer shows a vigorous samurai footman (yakko) holding a ceremonial spear as part of the parade of the samurai lord (daimy˘) who is his master. This is a famous dance of the repertoire of the Band˘ School of Dance. Both roles are performed by Nakamura Kanjaku.
  • Ohama Goten: there are few plays more popular in Kabuki than "Chűshingura" or the Treasury of the Forty-Seven Loyal Retainers. In the modern period, this play was reworked by Mayama Seika as "Genroku Chűshingura", a play focusing on different incidents and different characters in this revenge classic adding historical details reflecting the Genroku period. One of the most popular parts of this play shows the man that will be the next Sh˘gun, seemingly detached from the vendetta, but in fact, intensely interested in the progress of the quest of the band of loyal retainers. Starring Kataoka Nizaemon as Lord Tsunatoyo and Ichikawa Somegor˘ as Tominomori Sukeĺemon. With Kataoka Takatar˘ as Okiyo, Ichikawa Emisabur˘ as Ejima and Ichikawa Sadanji as Tsunatoyoĺs teacher Arai Kageyű.
  • Futatsu Ch˘ch˘ Kuruwa Nikki: first performed in 1749 in the puppet theatre, this is a popular play in Kabuki as well. However, usually only two scenes are performed, the climactic "Hikimado" ("the Skylight") scene and, less frequently, "Sum˘ba" ("the Sum˘ Bout"). This production shows not only "Hikimado" but scenes that make clear the complex relationships among the main characters. "Futatsu Ch˘ch˘" means "two butterflies" and also comes from the fact that two sum˘ wrestlers who play important roles in the full length play have names beginning with "ch˘": Ch˘kichi and Ch˘gor˘.
  • Izutsuya: ???
  • Komeya/Nanba Ura: in the previous scene ("Sum˘ba", not staged this time), in order to help his master buy out the contract of a beautiful courtesan, the senior wrestler Nuregami Ch˘gor˘ has thrown a match, letting the younger wrestler Hanaregoma Ch˘kichi win, hoping to get his help. We see Ch˘kichi's home in a rice store and the tragic intrigues that force Ch˘gor˘ to kill a man and flee. Starring popular actors Ichikawa Somegor˘ as Ch˘gor˘ and Nakamura Kanjaku as Ch˘kichi.
  • Hikimado: finally, in the "Hikimado" scene, Ch˘gor˘ (Ichikawa Somegor˘) takes refuge with his mother who lives with her stepson Jűjibŕ (Kataoka Nizaemon). Unfortunately, Jűjibŕ has succeeded to his late father's duties and is ordered to capture Ch˘gor˘. Jűjibŕ is caught between his duties and his loyalty to his stepmother while his mother is caught between her loves for her two sons. These conflicts are symbolized by the humble wooden skylight which opens and closes, showing both sides of the dilemma. Also starring Band˘ Takesabur˘ and Kataoka Takatar˘.
  • D˘tonbori Shibai-mae: ???.
  • Ry˘ma ga Yuku: this is a dramatization of the first section of the tremendously popular historical novel by Shiba Ry˘tar˘ (1923~1996) about Sakamoto Ry˘ma (1836~1867), a visionary revolutionary at the end of the Tokugawa Period who brought various rival factions together to battle the Shogunate and would have led Japan boldly, if he had not been assassinated in a bloody battle. Starring Ichikawa Somegor˘, Kataoka Ainosuke and Kataoka Takatar˘.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Shinbashi Enbuj˘ (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 2 ~ 26 July 2010 (Shichigatsu ďkabuki)
    July Grand Kabuki
    MatinÚe

    Meigetsu Hachiman Matsuri

    Rokkasen Sugata no Irodori (Bun'ya)

    Gion Sairei Shink˘ki (Kinkakuji)

    Evening

    Shibaraku

    Keisei Hangonk˘ (Domo Mata)

    Uma Nusubito

    Casting

    Ichikawa Danjűr˘, Nakamura Kichiemon, Band˘ Mitsugor˘, Nakamura Tomijűr˘, Nakamura Shikan, Nakamura Shibajaku, Nakamura Fukusuke, Ichikawa Danshir˘, Nakamura T˘z˘, ďtani Tomoemon, Kataoka Ichiz˘, Kawarazaki Gonjűr˘, Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Kash˘, Ichikawa Monnosuke, Ichikawa Unosuke, Ichimura Kakitsu, Band˘ Minosuke

    Comments

  • Meigetsu Hachiman Matsuri:
    (The Autumn Hachiman Festival)
    Miyokichi (Nakamura Fukusuke) is a spirited geisha in the Fukagawa district with a distinguished lord as a patron and Sanji (Nakamura Kash˘), a good for nothing boatman, as a lover. On the occasion of the Hachiman festival, she tries to raise an enormous sum of money for Sanji, but refuses to try to get it from the patron who has been so good to her. Instead, she tries to get it from the merchant Shinsuke (Band˘ Mitsugor˘). Shinsuke has long been in love with Miyokichi and brings the money to make her his own, but instead, she gets the money from her patron and so, has no further interest in Shinsuke. When the ardent merchant learns that he has been deceived, love turns to anger and he kills Miyokichi in a beautiful and gruesome scene in the rain, under the full moon of the autumn festival.
  • Bun'ya: this dance is a section of a humorous series of dances, which show the ancient poetic geniuses famous from classical Japanese literature, reinterpreted to the tastes of Edo period audiences. Ono no Komachi, the only woman of the six, was famous as a great beauty. In this series of dances, all the other poets are in love with her and try to make her their own. This particular section focuses on the low-ranking court noble Bun'ya no Yasuhide (Nakamura Tomijűr˘), counted as one of the "Six Poetic Geniuses". He pursues the fabulously beautiful Ono no Komachi, but instead encounters some very homely court women in a kind of comic fantasy on the theme of love.
  • 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 (Ichikawa Danjűr˘) 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 Kichiemon), pretends to come under Daizen's employ to try to sabotage his plans from within. Princess Yuki (Nakamura Fukusuke) 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.
  • Shibaraku:
    (Wait a Minute!)
    More ceremony than play, "Shibaraku" is one of the oldest pieces in Kabuki. Just as an evil villain is about to execute a group of loyal retainers, a voice calls out for him to wait and a hero of justice (Ichikawa Danjűr˘) appears to save the day. This play features the bombastic aragoto style of acting, which is the specialty of the Ichikawa Danjűr˘ line of actors and is part of the collection of the Eighteen Favorite Plays (Kabuki Jűhachiban) of the Ichikawa Family. Featuring Band˘ Mitsugor˘, Nakamura Fukusuke, Ichikawa Danshir˘, Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Kash˘, ďtani Tomoemon, Kawarazaki Gonjűr˘, Ichikawa Monnosuke, Kataoka Ichiz˘, Ichikawa Unosuke and Ichimura Kakitsu.
  • 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 Kichiemon as Matahei and Nakamura Shibajaku as his wife Otoku.
  • Uma Nusubito: a modern dance using the techniques of traditional Kabuki for a light and entertaining story of a horse thief. Featuring Band˘ Mitsugor˘, Nakamura Kash˘ and Band˘ Minosuke.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    National Theatre (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 3 ~ 24 July 2010 (Shichigatsu Kabuki Kansh˘ Ky˘shitsu)
    Program

    Kabuki no Mikata

    Migawari Zazen

    Casting

    Nakamura Kinnosuke, Band˘ Hikosabur˘, Band˘ Kamesabur˘, Nakamura Kazutar˘, Nakamura Hayato

    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 the dance-drama "Migawari Zazen":

  • Migawari Zazen: a dance play adopted from a classical ky˘gen farce. A man (Nakamura Kinnosuke) wants nothing more than to visit his lover Hanako, but he has one important problem, his homely and overbearing wife (Band˘ Hikosabur˘). He creates a scheme saying that he will be practicing Zen meditation all night and has his servant (Band˘ Kamesabur˘) 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.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Kabuki Tour in the central provinces
    Dates 1 ~ 31 July 2010
    Program

    Kuruwa Sanbas˘

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

    B˘ Shibari

    Casting

    Onoe Kikugor˘, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Onoe Kikunosuke, Onoe Sh˘roku, Ichikawa Danz˘, Band˘ Shűch˘, Nakamura Baishi, Nakamura Mantar˘

    Comments

  • Kuruwa Sanbas˘: the sanbas˘ is an auspicious dance based on the ritual play Okina in the classical theater which shows an old man as a symbol of longevity and the energetic sanbas˘ as a symbol of fertility and prosperity. In Kabuki there are many different versions, but this particular one sets the dance in the pleasure quarters and has a beautiful top-ranking courtesan in place of the old man and a taiko mochi entertainer instead of the boisterous sanbas˘. To celebrate the New Year, this dance features Nakamura Tokiz˘ as the courtesan and his two son, Nakamura Baishi and Nakamura Mantar˘.
  • 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 Onoe Kikugor˘ as Lord ďkura, Nakamura Tokiz˘ as Tokiwa Gozen, Onoe Sh˘roku as Yoshioka Kijir˘ and Onoe Kikunosuke as Yoshioka's wife Oky˘.
  • B˘ Shibari:
    (Tied to a Pole)
    A dance play based on a classical Ky˘gen farce. A master (Ichikawa Danz˘) is irritated that his two servants always drink his wine while he is out. He plots with his servant Tar˘kaja (Onoe Kikunosuke/Onoe Sh˘roku alternately) to trick the other servant Jir˘kaja (Onoe Sh˘roku/Onoe Kikunosuke alternately) into demonstrating his skill at stick fighting, tying him to the stick. The master then ties up Tar˘kaja as well. But he is outsmarted when the two still manage to drink his wine while tied up. Their happy singing and dancing while tied up is a dazzling display of virtuoso dancing and star two of the finest young dancers in Kabuki.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Kabuki Tour in the eastern provinces
    Dates 1 July ~ 1 August 2010
    MatinÚe

    Koi Ny˘b˘ Somewake Tazuna
    (Shigenoi Kowakare)

    Kanjinch˘

    Evening

    Ame no Gor˘

    Kanadehon Chűshingura
    (Gion Ichiriki Jaya)

    ďmi no Okane

    Casting

    Matsumoto K˘shir˘, Nakamura Kaishun, Nakamura Baigyoku, Ichikawa Komaz˘, Sawamura S˘nosuke, Matsumoto Kingo, Nakamura Matsue

    Comments

  • Shigenoi Kowakare:
    (Shigenoi's Parting from her Son)
    This play was adapted from the Bunraku puppet theater and was written by its greatest playwright, Chikamatsu Monzaemon. A young horse driver is invited to help cheer up a little princess. But the boy happens to be the son of the princess's nurse, Shigenoi (Nakamura Kaishun). She was forced to abandon him since he was the result of a forbidden relationship. Now she must turn her back on him again to keep any shame from falling on the princess.
  • Kanjinch˘: 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, with Nakamura Kaishun and Nakamura Baigyoku as Yoshitsune and the barrier keeper Togashi.
  • Ame no Gor˘: Soga no Gor˘ is one of the most famous heroes in the Kabuki world, super-strong and quick to fight. However, this dance shows the soft side of this hero as well as he travels nightly to the pleasure quarter to visit his lover. Starring Nakamura Matsue as Gor˘.
  • Gion Ichiriki Jaya: "Chűshingura" is one of the most popular plays in the theatre and shows a true event when forty-seven masterless samurai avenged the death of their lord by killing his enemy. The seventh act is one of the most popular and shows the leader of the vendetta Yuranosuke as he is hiding his intention to avenge his lordĺs death by pretending to be only interested in pleasure, but also encountering key figures on his side and the side of the enemy. Yuranosuke (Matsumoto K˘shir˘) spends his days and nights in the pleasure quarters of Ky˘to in an effort to make their lordĺs enemy, Moron˘, believe he is not planning a vendetta. His acting is so good that even men in his own group believe he has given his life up to pleasure. Moron˘ is not so easily convinced, though, and has sent spies, including a former retainer of their late lord, En'ya Hangan, to find Yuranosuke's true intentions. Okaru (Nakamura Kaishun), the wife of one of the retainers is now a courtesan at the Ichiriki Teahouse, unaware that her husband is dead. Okaru's brother Heiemon (Nakamura Baigyoku), a servant in the Hangan household, has also come to the teahouse and the interaction of these characters becomes a matter of life and death and ends with Yuranosuke preparing to lead the vendetta.
  • 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 Ichikawa Komaz˘ as Okane.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Matsumoto Performing Arts Centre (Matsumoto)
    Dates 2 ~ 8 July 2010 (Shinshű Matsumoto ďkabuki)
    Program

    Sakura Giminden

    Casting

    Nakamura Kanzabur˘, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Nakamura Senjaku, Band˘ Yajűr˘, Kataoka Kamez˘, Sasano Takashi, Nakamura Shichinosuke

    Comments

    The Heisei Nakamuraza troupe, led by the star Nakamura Kanzabur˘, performs for the second time in the city of Matsumoto (first time was in July 2008). This exceptional program is called Shinshű Matsumoto ďkabuki (Shinshű is an old name for the province of Nagano, whose main city is Matsumoto). Same program as the 11th edition of the June 2010 Cocoon Kabuki in T˘ky˘:

  • Sakura Giminden: this play is rare among classics in having a political theme. It depicts a country landlord Kiuchi S˘g˘ (Nakamura Kanzabur˘) 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 to let him pass and says a final farewell to his wife Osan 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

    Akasaka Act Theater (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 12 ~ 29 July 2010 (Akasaka ďkabuki)
    Akasaka Grand Kabuki
    Program

    Ninj˘ Banashi Bunshichi Mottoi

    Sagi Musume

    Casting

    Nakamura Kanzabur˘, Nakamura Senjaku, Kataoka Hidetar˘, Band˘ Yajűr˘, Kataoka Kamez˘, Nakamura Kantar˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke

    Comments

  • Bunshichi Mottoi: Ch˘bŕ spends his days and nights gambling, but is finally made aware of his family's problems when his daughter takes a job in the pleasure quarters. Having received the money for her contract, he shows his good side to save a young man on the edge of suicide after losing a large sum of money, but nobody believes Ch˘bŕ, thinking that he has gambled the money away. The performance stars Nakamura Kanzabur˘ and Nakamura Senjaku in the roles of Ch˘bŕ and his wife Okane. Featuring also Nakamura Kantar˘, Kataoka Kamez˘, Band˘ Yajűr˘ and Kataoka Hidetar˘.
  • Sagi Musume: one of the most famous dances in Kabuki, this figure is familiar through pictures and Japanese dolls. A beautiful young woman all in white appears in the snowy landscape. She dances lightly of love, but then reveals that she is the spirit of a bird, a magnificent heron that struggles wounded through a snowstorm. Starring Nakamura Shichinosuke.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Zenshinza Tour
    Dates 7 July ~ 2 August 2010
    Program

    Gojű no T˘

    Casting

    Arashi Keishi, Fujikawa Yanosuke, Nakamura Tsuruz˘, Yamazaki Ryűnosuke, Osagawa Genjir˘, Anegawa Shinnosuke, Ikushima Kigor˘, Matsunami Kihachir˘, Nakamura Seinosuke

    Comments

  • Gojű no T˘: a dramatization of the classic story by K˘da Rohan. This play shows the rivalry between the slow Jűbŕ (Arashi Keishi) and sophisticated Genta (Fujikawa Yanosuke) to build a magnificent pagoda for a temple. Although it seems natural for Genta to be awarded the contract, it becomes an obsession for Jűbŕ and finally their rivalry becomes the reason for the successful completion of the pagoda.
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