|NAKAMURA KICHIEMON I|
Real name: Namino Tatsujir˘
Line number: SHODAI (I)
Poetry name: Shűzan
Existence: 24 March 1886 ~ 5 September 1954
Grandfather: Nakamura Karoku I
Father: Nakamura Karoku III
Adopted son: Nakamura Kichiemon II
Great-grandson: Ichikawa Somegor˘ VII
1886: born in T˘ky˘ in the district of Asakusa. His mother is the daughter of a shibai jaya owner named Yorozuya Kichiemon.
September 1898: Kichiemon plays at the Asakusaza the role of Motoemon in the drama "Tengajaya-mura".
April 1910: premiere at the Kabukiza of "Yuki no Yűbe Iriya no Azemichi", a few scenes taken from "Kumo ni Magou Ueno no Hatsuhana" focusing on Kataoka Naojir˘ and his lover Michitose and staged independently from the rest of the play; Kichiemon plays the role of Kurayami no Ushimatsu [casting].
January 1916: premiere at the Ichimuraza of the ky˘gen "B˘ Shibari", which is adapted to kabuki by Okamura Shik˘; Kichiemon plays the role of the daimy˘ [casting]. He also plays the role of Ishikawa Goemon in the drama "Sanmon Gosan no Kiri"; the role of Mashiba Hisayoshi is played by Onoe Kikugor˘ VI.
September 1926: Kichiemon plays at the Kabukiza the role of Motoemon in the drama "Tengajaya-mura". His stage partners are Ichikawa Chűsha VII (T˘ma Sabur˘emon), Sawamura S˘jűr˘ VII (Iori), Band˘ Mitsugor˘ VII (Yasuke, K˘emon) and Nakamura Fukusuke V (Genjir˘).
October 1927: revival at the Hong˘za of Tsuruya Nanboku IV's masterpiece "Sakura Hime Azuma Bunsh˘", produced under the title "Kiyomizudera Azuma Bunsh˘", which has not been staged since 3rd lunar month of 1817; Kichiemon plays the role of Seigen [casting].
1943: Kichiemon sets up his own troupe, the Kichiemon Gekidan (literally "Kichiemon's theatrical troupe").
1951: Kichiemon publishes his autobiography entitled "Kichiemon Jiden" (literally "Kichiemon's autobiography").
November 1952: Kichiemon plays for the last time the role of Shunkan in the drama "Heike Nyogo no Shima", which is staged at the Kabukiza. His stage partners are Nakamura Utaemon VI (Chidori) and Nakamura Tokiz˘ III (Tanzaemon).
Nakamura Kichiemon I was one of the best tachiyaku actors of the twentieth century and had a major influence on Kabuki, helping a lot for the transmission of classic roles, which he had the chance in his prime to closely see performed by stage giants like Ichikawa Danjűr˘ IX or Ichikawa Danz˘ VII. He also deviced himself many kata, which are called Kichiemon kata. His troupe, the Kichiemon Gekidan, was the most active one in post-WW2 Japan.
Nakamura Kichiemon I's best roles: Shunkan ("Shunkan"), K˘chiyama S˘shun ("K˘chiyama"), Takebe Genz˘ ("Terakoya"), Ichij˘ ďkura ("Ichij˘ ďkura Monogatari"), Banzui Ch˘bŕ ("Yudono no Ch˘bŕ"), Jir˘zaemon ("Kagotsurube Sato no Eizame"), Takechi Mitsuhide ("Badarai no Mitsuhide"), Matsuura Shizunobu ("Matsuura no Taiko"), Benkei ("Kanjinch˘"), Sasaki Moritsuna ("Moritsuna Jinya"), Kumagai Jir˘ Naozane ("Kumagai Jin'ya"), Yatagor˘ Genshichi ("Kamiyui Shinza"), Daihanji no Kiyosumi ("Imoseyama Onna Teikin"), Kiuchi S˘go ("Sakura Giminden") and ďboshi Yuranosuke ("Kanadehon Chűshingura").
Nakamura Kichiemon I was particularly interested in the warrior Kat˘ Kiyomasa and many new dramas were written especially for him in this role. He gathered them and others dramas in a special collection of six plays called Shűzan Jisshu, which includes "Nij˘j˘ no Kiyomasa", "Urusanj˘ no Kiyomasa", "Kumamotoj˘ no Kiyomasa", "Matsuura no Taiko", "Yasaku no Kamabara" and "Kiyomasa Seichűroku".
"Nakamura Kichiemon, a member of the Kabukiza company, is a meteor-like actor, having risen rapidly and by sheer ability, for he has little ancestral prestige to enhance his reputation. He has no pretensions to boast of as a dancer, but in the loyalty characters of the Kabuki masterpieces, in creating afresh the r˘les left by Chikamatsu Monzaemon, Takeda Izumo, and Chikamatsu Hanji, he is unsurpassed." (written in 1925, when Kichiemon was at the end of his thirties, by ZoŰ Kincaid in "Kabuki, the Popular Stage of Japan")
Nakamura Kichiemon I playing the role of the otokodate Ume no Yoshibei in the a print made by Hanayama
The Nakamura Kichiemon line of actors
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