JUNE 2008

4 shows in T˘ky˘ (Kabukiza, National Theatre, Theatre Cocoon), 2 in Fukuoka (Hakataza), 1 in Nagoya (Chűnichi Theatre) and 1 tour (Kansai)!

Kabukiza (T˘ky˘)
Dates 3 ~ 27 June 2008 (Rokugatsu ďkabuki)
MatinÚe

Shin Usuyuki Monogatari

  • Hanami
  • Sengi
  • Sannin Warai
  • Niwaka Jishi

    Evening

    Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura (Sushiya)

    Migawari Zazen

    Ikite-iru Koheiji

    Mitsu Ningy˘

    Casting

    Nakamura Kichiemon, Kataoka Nizaemon, Nakamura Shikan, Matsumoto K˘shir˘, Nakamura Tomijűr˘, Nakamura Shibajaku, Nakamura Kaishun, Ichikawa Danshir˘, Nakamura Fukusuke, Nakamura Kinnosuke, Band˘ Hikosabur˘, Ichikawa Somegor˘, Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Kash˘, Band˘ Minosuke, Nakamura Hayato

    Comments

  • Shin Usuyuki Monogatari:
    (The Tale of Princess Usuyuki)
    Most of the matinee program consists of a full-length production of a Kabuki epic. This play, adapted from the Bunraku puppet theater, combines the best of kabuki -- romance, colorful spectacle and tragedy. With its numerous good roles, a large gathering of popular and accomplished actors are necessary to stage it. Rarely performed, when this play appears, it is always an event.
  • Hanami: Saemon (Nakamura Kinnosuke), the eldest son of the Sonobe family and Princesss Usuyuki (Nakamura Shibajaku), the daughter of the Saizaki family, fall in love after glimpsing one another under the cherry blossoms of Kiyomizu temple and are brought together by their servants. The villain Daizen (Nakamura Tomijűr˘) places a curse on a sword presented to the temple by Saemon. By framing the couple, he hopes to bring destroy their families so they cannot hinder his effort to take over the country. Saemon's servant Tsumahei (Ichikawa Somegor˘) almost defeats this plan and is attacked by Daizen's henchmen in a spectacular fight scene with water buckets.
  • Sengi: Saemon and Princess Usuyuki are charged with treason. Minbu (Nakamura Tomijűr˘) comes to investigate the two, and although they maintain their innocence, Daizen is able to turn the evidence against them. The compassionate Minbu gives them a temporary reprieve, but still, must place them under house arrest, each at the house of the other's family, with Saemon at the Saizaki residence and Princess Usuyuki at the Sonobe residence.
  • Sannin Warai: unable to prove the innocence of the young couple, their fathers are charged with cutting off their heads. Sonobe Hy˘e (Matsumoto K˘shir˘) and his wife Ume-no-Kata (Nakamura Shikan) allow Princess Usuyuki to escape. Saizaki (Nakamura Kichiemon) appears with a head box which he says contains the head of Saemon and demands that Sonobe cut off Princess Usuyuki's head. Sonobe returns, having secretly stabbed himself to atone for letting Princess Usuyuki escape. Saizaki reveals that, in fact, he has done the same and the two, seemingly stern and villainous men reveal that they have sacrificed themselves for love of their children.
  • Niwaka Jishi: this lively dance evokes the atmosphere of an Edo period festival. The highlight of the piece is the lion dance performed by two of the handsome young men of the neighborhood. Featuring Nakamura Fukusuke (the geisha) and Ichikawa Somegor˘ (the firefighter).
  • Sushiya: this is one act of an epic originally written for the Bunraku puppet theatre. The full-length play shows the fate of various Taira generals in hiding after the victory of their enemy, the Genji. In this act, Koremori (Ichikawa Somegor˘), the heir to the Taira clan is hiding in a sushi shop disguised as a humble apprentice, and Osato (Nakamura Shibajaku), the daughter of the house, falls in love with him. However, Gonta (Nakamura Kichiemon), the evil son of the house plots to gain a reward by turning in Koremori to the top Genji general Kajiwara (Ichikawa Danshir˘), but in the end, he has a surprising change of heart in one of the most heart-rending scenes in Kabuki. Also featuring Nakamura Karoku as Yazaemon, the proprietor of the sushi shop.
  • Migawari Zazen: a dance play adopted from a classical ky˘gen farce. A man (Kataoka Nizaemon) wants nothing more than to visit his lover Hanako, but he has one important problem, his homely and overbearing wife (Ichikawa Danshir˘). He creates a scheme saying that he will be practicing Zen meditation all night and has his servant (Nakamura Kinnosuke) 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.
  • Ikite-iru Koheiji:
    (Koheiji Just Can't Be Killed)
    This is a rare performance of a modern drama. The Kabuki actor Koheiji (Ichikawa Somegor˘) is having an affair with Ochika (Nakamura Fukusuke), the wife of his friend Takur˘ (Matsumoto K˘shir˘). Takur˘ conspires with his wife to kill Koheiji, but no matter what they do, he still clings to life.
  • Mitsu Ningy˘:
    (The Three Dolls)
    The characters in this graceful dance are not actually dolls, but are three characters that are often depicted with dolls, a courtesan (Nakamura Shibajaku), a handsome youth (Nakamura Kinnosuke) and a samurai footman (Nakamura Kash˘).
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Hakataza (Fukuoka)
    Dates 5 ~ 28 June 2008 (Rokugatsu ďkabuki)
    MatinÚe

    Kotobuki Soga no Taimen

    Ky˘ganoko Musume D˘j˘ji

    Tsuyu Kosode Mukashi Hachij˘ (Kamiyui Shinza)

    Evening

    Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami

  • Kamo Zutsumi
  • Ga no Iwai
  • Dattan

    Benten Musume Meo no Shiranami

    Casting

    Sakata T˘jűr˘, Onoe Kikugor˘, Onoe Kikunosuke, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Nakamura Baigyoku, Nakamura Kanjaku, Ichikawa Danz˘, Ichikawa Sadanji, Onoe Sh˘roku, Nakamura T˘z˘

    Comments

  • 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 Baigyoku as Kud˘ and some of the most popular young stars in Kabuki with Onoe Sh˘roku as Gor˘ and Onoe Kikunosuke as Jűr˘.
  • 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 is played by Living National Treasure Sakata T˘jűr˘, who performs at the Hakataza his kiju kinen dance.
  • Kamiyui Shinza: Shinza is a barber that goes from door to door, but at the same time, he is a villain that kidnaps Okuma, the beautiful daughter of a wealthy household, and even resists the efforts of Yatagor˘ Genshichi, the most prestigious strongman in town, to get her release. Starring Onoe Kikugor˘ as Shinza, Onoe Kikunosuke as Okuma, Nakamura Tokiz˘ as Chűshichi and Ichikawa Danz˘ as Yatagor˘ Genshichi.
  • Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami: Sugawara no Michizane was a high-ranking imperial court minister who was a brilliant calligrapher and scholar. But political rivalries forced him to be exiled to distant Kyűshű, where he died. After Michizane's death, a series of disasters in the imperial capital were attributed to his angry spirit and he was appeased by being made a god, Tenjin, and he is now revered as the god of learning. His story was dramatized as an epic puppet drama in 1746 and the play remains a favorite in both Kabuki and the Bunraku puppet theatre. The two acts of this month production don't focus on the drama of Sugawara himself but on the triplets, Matsu˘maru, Ume˘maru and Sakuramaru, three brothers named after the pine, plum and cherry trees, who each serve the heads of different political factions. The key character is Sakuramaru, who has to commit suicide in the second act to atone for what he did in the first one.
  • Kamo Zutsumi:
    (The Kamo Riverbank)
    Young Sakuramaru (Nakamura Baigyoku) serves imperial prince Tokiyo (Nakamura Matsue) who has fallen in love with Princess Kariya (Nakamura Baishi), Michizane's beautiful daughter. Sakuramaru and his wife Yae (Nakamura Tokiz˘) are charmed by the affair, since it reminds them of their own love. But the affair is discovered and Michizane's rivals use it as proof that he is attempting to take over the imperial court. This innocent love affair triggers the tragedies of the play.
  • Ga no Iwai:
    (The Birthday Celebration)
    The three brothers are supposed to gather with their wives for their father Shiratayű's (Ichikawa Sadanji) birthday, but Sakuramaru does not appear. While waiting, Matsu˘maru (Nakamura Kanjaku) and Ume˘maru (Onoe Sh˘roku) get into a fight and break the branches of the cherry tree. Shiratayű sees this and disowns both Ume˘maru and Matsu˘maru for their failures in duty. In fact, Shiratayű knows that these are omens that his youngest son must die. When everybody leaves, Sakuramaru appears and sadly commits ritual suicide for being responsible for the incident used as an excuse to send Michizane into exile.
  • Dattan: this is an evocative dance, that takes its name from a Buddhist rite held every March at T˘daiji Temple in Nara. The story is about a monk yearning for a woman he left behind. Featuring Onoe Kikugor˘, Sakata T˘jűr˘ and Nakamura Kanjaku.
  • 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. Onoe Kikunosuke stars as Benten Koz˘, with Ichikawa Danz˘ as Nippon Daemon and Onoe Sh˘roku as Nang˘ Rikimaru.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Shibuya Bunkamura Theatre Cocoon (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 10 ~ 29 June 2008
    Program

    Natsu Matsuri Naniwa Kagami

  • Otai Jaya
  • Sumiyoshi Torii Mae
  • Tsuribune Sabu Uchi
  • Nagamachi Ura
  • Tajima-ch˘/Yane Ue
  • Casting

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

    Comments

    9th edition of the original Cocoon Kabuki performance, which recreates the atmosphere of the Edo koshibai and brings the actors closer to the audience.

  • 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 Nakamura Kanzabur˘ as Danshichi, with Nakamura Hashinosuke, Band˘ Yajűr˘ and Nakamura Kantar˘ (10~19)/Nakamura Shichinosuke (20~29) as Tokubŕ, Sabu and Otatsu.
  • Chűnichi Theatre (Nagoya)
    Dates 9 ~ 27 June 2008
    Program Yamato Takeru
    Casting

    Ichikawa Ukon, Ichikawa Danjir˘, Ichikawa Emiya, Ichikawa Monnosuke, Ichikawa Emisabur˘, Ichikawa Shun'en, Ichikawa En'ya, Ichikawa Juen, Kaneda Ryűnosuke

    Comments

    Ichikawa Ennosuke's troupe of young and talented actors perform a modern style of theater, which they created a few years ago and called "Super Kabuki" (SűpÔ Kabuki in Chikamatsu Monzaemon's lingo): it's spectacular (lots of chűnori), the costums are gorgeous and ultra-sophisticated, the music is modern, the texts are easy to understand and the plots are as twisted as a good Kabuki classic. Usually a big commercial success! "Yamato Takeru" was the first SűpÔ Kabuki drama of the Omodakaya guild and the most successful one. For this revival, the leading role of Yamato Takeru is played by both Ichikawa Danjir˘ and Ichikawa Ukon.

    Ichikawa Ennosuke is on sick leave and does not perform in this production.

    National Theatre (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 1 ~ 24 June 2008 (Rokugatsu Kabuki Kansh˘ Ky˘shitsu)
    Program

    Kabuki no Mikata

    Shinrei Yaguchi no Watashi

    Casting

    Kataoka Takatar˘, Kataoka Ichiz˘

    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 on stage of Kabuki or some aspects of the art like music, stage tricks or fighting scenes, followed by the drama "Yaguchi no Watashi":

  • Shinrei Yaguchi no Watashi: this play was written by Hiraga Gennai, an Edo inventor, explorer and writer of comic fiction. Young Ofune is the obedient daughter of her evil father Tonbŕ, the keeper of a river crossing. She meets and falls in love with a young fugitive. Unfortunately, her father wants to capture the fugitive for a reward and Ofune can only save his life by sacrificing her own. Starring Kataoka Takatar˘ and Kataoka Ichiz˘ in the roles of Ofune and Tonbŕ.
  • Educational Kabuki tour in Kansai
    Date 1 ~ 23 June 2008
    Program

    Heike Nyogo no Shima (Shunkan)

    Casting

    Kataoka Gat˘, Kamimura Kichiya, Kataoka Shinnosuke, Band˘ Shinsha

    Comments

    33rd edition of an educational Kabuki tour in Kansai:

  • Shunkan: the priest Shunkan (Kataoka Gat˘) has been exiled to Devil's Island for plotting against the dictator Kiyomori. A pardon is given to his fellow conspirators, but Shunkan is only saved by an additional pardon given by Kiyomori's compassionate son. Even so, he gives up his place on the boat to freedom so his companion's new wife can accompany her husband back to the capital. The boat leaves and Shunkan is left watching is disappear in the distance, knowing he will be left on the island forever.
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