MAY 2011

2 in ďsaka (Sh˘chikuza) and 5 shows in T˘ky˘ (Shinbashi Enbuj˘, National Theatre, Meijiza)!

Sh˘chikuza (ďsaka)
Dates 2 ~ 26 May 2011 (Dankikusai Gogatsu ďkabuki)
Dankikusai May Grand Kabuki
MatinÚe

Onna Shibaraku

Shiokumi

Kiwametsuki Banzui Ch˘bŕ

Evening

Yamatogana Ariwara Keizu
(Ranpei Monogurui)

Benten Musume Meo no Shiranami

  • Hamamatsuya
  • Inasegawa Seizoroi
  • Shunky˘ Kagami Jishi

    Casting

    Ichikawa Danjűr˘, Onoe Kikugor˘, Sakata T˘jűr˘, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Nakamura Kanjaku, Onoe Kikunosuke, Ichikawa Sadanji, Onoe Sh˘roku, Kawarazaki Gonjűr˘,

    Comments

    The traditional May dankikusai performances are held for the second time in Kabuki history in ďsaka at the Sh˘chikuza.

  • Onna Shibaraku: 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 appears to save the day. This version is a parody, though, as the hero is played by an onnagata female role specialist, who mixes the super-human strength of an aragoto hero with the soft gentleness of a Kabuki heroine. Featuring Nakamura Tokiz˘ as the heroine and Ichikawa Danz˘ as the larger-than-life villain, with Ichikawa Sadanji as a friendly stage attendant who makes sure that everything goes right.
  • Shiokumi: in the classical Theatre, there are few plays as evocative as Matsukaze, the story of a court noble exiled to the seacoast where he falls in love with two fisher women. The women make their living scooping up heavy buckets of sea water to make salt and this has become a famous dance. Starring Sakata T˘jűr˘ as the shiokumi Matsukaze.
  • Banzui Ch˘bŕ: in the early Edo period, gallant men like Banzuiin Ch˘bŕ led the commoners. But this incurred the wrath of members of the samurai class, who were theoretically in control. This play begins with a recreation of Kabuki in its earliest days, then a fight breaks out which is settled by Ch˘bŕ (Ichikawa Danjűr˘). But this frustrates the ambitions of the samurai Mizuno (Onoe Kikugor˘) who invites Ch˘bŕ to visit. All of Ch˘bŕ's men tell him not to go because it is a trap, but Ch˘bŕ decides to meet his end and bids farewell to his wife (Nakamura Tokiz˘) and son. Finally, Ch˘bŕ is killed when he is defenseless in the bath.
  • Ranpei Monogurui: in order to recover a treasure, Ranpei claims to go mad at the sight of a sword. But he is unmasked and the play ends with one of the most spectacular fight scenes in Kabuki including a struggle on top of a high ladder held up on the hanamichi runway. Starring Onoe Sh˘roku as Ranpei.
  • 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 Kikugor˘ stars as Benten Koz˘, with Ichikawa Danjűr˘ as Nippon Daemon, Ichikawa Sadanji as Nang˘ Rikimaru, Kawarazaki Gonjűr˘ as Tadanobu Rihei and Nakamura Tokiz˘ as Akaboshi Jűzabur˘.
  • Kagami Jishi: one of the most important dances for onnagata female role specialists and is an audience favorite. The maidservant Yayoi performs an auspicious lion dance for the Sh˘gun in his opulent palace, but she gradually finds herself under the control of the lion spirit. In the second half of the dance, the lion spirit itself appears and performs its crazed dance among peonies and fluttering butterflies. Starring Onoe Kikunosuke as both Yayoi and the spirit of the lion.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Shinbashi Enbuj˘ (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 1 ~ 25 May 2011
    MatinÚe

    Katakiuchi Tengajaya-mura

    Evening

    Kagotsurube Sato no Eizame

    Ayame Yukata

    Casting

    Nakamura Kichiemon, Matsumoto K˘shir˘, Nakamura Baigyoku, Nakamura Shibajaku, Nakamura Fukusuke, Ichikawa Danshir˘, Nakamura Kinnosuke, Band˘ Yajűr˘, ďtani Tomoemon, Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Kash˘, Ichikawa Komaz˘

    Comments

  • Tengajaya: "Tengajaya" was first performed in 1781 in ďsaka, dramatizing a true event that occurred over a century earlier. It is in the classical vengeance play form, following the sufferings of the brothers Iori (Nakamura Baigyoku) and Genjir˘ (Nakamura Kinnosuke) as they search for T˘ma (Matsumoto K˘shir˘), the killer of their father. Iori first falls ill and then is wounded by the enemy and finally ends up living in a shack as a beggar where he is killed by the enemy. But the real reason for the continuing popularity of this is not due to the historical incident, which has long since been forgotten, nor because it is a vengeance play since there are other, much more popular vendetta plays. Originally the role of the servant Motoemon (Matsumoto K˘shir˘), a retainer of Iori's family who goes over to the enemy side was very small, but the actor ďtani Tomoemon IV transformed it into a brilliant, virtuoso role. At first Motoemon is supposed to guard his lord, but fails due to his weakness for drink. He promises his brother Yasuke (Band˘ Yajűr˘) to stop drinking, but is tricked by the enemy into getting dead drunk and during this time, T˘ma kills his lord. Motoemon is ready to kill himself to atone, but instead decides to go to the enemy side. There is no trick he will not stoop to, in order to turn things to his advantage. For example, Motoemon tells his brother (who is still loyal to Iori) that he has become blind due to illness, no doubt punishment for his evil arts, and asks for charity. But in fact, he soon sneaks in, kills his brother and wounds Iori, all in order to protect his new lord T˘ma. But in the end, Genjir˘ avenges his father's death with the help of former retainers of his father's clan.
  • Kagotsurube: one of the most sensational plays of late Kabuki, it shows a humble, pockmarked merchant from the country named Sano Jir˘zaemon (Nakamura Kichiemon). He is wealthy, but because of the way he looks, has never thought that it would be possible to have a woman. He and his servant go sightseeing in the Yoshiwara pleasure quarters and a chance look at top courtesan Yatsuhashi (Nakamura Fukusuke) who smiles at him, makes Jir˘zaemon fall in love. However, the pleasure quarters are full of intrigue, and on the eve of the day that Jir˘zaemon is to buy up Yatsuhashi's contract, her true love Einoj˘ (Nakamura Baigyoku) forces her to reject and humiliate Jir˘zaemon in the middle of the celebratory banquet. Jir˘zaemon seems to forgive her, but returns with the sword Kagotsurube to exact his revenge.
  • Ayame Yukata: this dance centers around the Boys' Festival which occurs in the beginning of May. It sings of the season of early summer in which the light, fragrant scenes and symbols of the Boys' Festival, such as the iris (ayame in Japanese), decorative samurai helmet, and iris sake. Featuring Nakamura Shibajaku, Nakamura Kinnosuke and Nakamura Kash˘.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide website
    Nihon Buy˘ for "Ayame Yukata"

    Meijiza (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 3 ~ 27 May 2011 (Gogatsu Hanagata Kabuki)
    May Young Actors Kabuki
    MatinÚe

    Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura
    (Kawatsura H˘gen Yakata)

    Keisei Yamato Z˘shi (Ch˘ no Michiyuki)

    Koi Bikyaku Yamato ďrai (Fűin Giri)

    Evening

    Kaidan Botan D˘r˘

    Takatsuki

    Casting

    Ichikawa Kamejir˘, Ichikawa Somegor˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Nakamura Kantar˘

    Comments

  • Kawatsura H˘gen Yakata: the epic "Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees" ("Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura") features many characters around the famous general Yoshitsune, but none more memorable than a magic fox that takes the guise of Tadanobu, one of Yoshitsune's most trusted retainers. The fox wants to get close to a precious drum that Yoshitsune has made from the skins of his fox parents. In this excerpt from the longer play, the fox reveals his true identity with a series of spectacular stage tricks and Yoshitsune is moved to grant him the drum. Starring Ichikawa Kamejir˘ as the fox Tadanobu. Also featuring Ichikawa Monnosuke and Ichikawa Somegor˘ as Shizuka Gozen and Minamoto no Yoshitsune.
  • Ch˘ no Michiyuki:
    (The Love Suicide of the Butterflies)
    When people die, it is said that their spirits become butterflies. Having committed double suicide, the butterfly spirits of Sukekuni (Ichikawa Somegor˘) and Komaki (Nakamura Shichinosuke) dance in human form remembering the time they first met and their love for each other. But their happiness is brief as they are again tormented by hell.
  • Fűin Giri:
    (Breaking the Seals)
    In the pleasure quarters, the most important possessions were money and reputation. In danger of losing his lover, the courtesan Umegawa, the money courier Kameya Chűbŕ breaks the seals on a package of money entrusted to him after being taunted by a rival, even though the use of such money is punishable by death. Starring Nakamura Kantar˘ as Chűbŕ, Nakamura Shichinosuke as Umegawa and Ichikawa Somegor˘ as Chűbŕ's treacherous friend Tanbaya Hachiemon.
  • Botan D˘r˘: one of the most famous ghost stories in Japan shows the ghost of a beautiful young girl who visits the man she loves nightly, her way lit by a lantern decorated with peonies. The clatter of her wooden clogs announces her appearance, ôůkarannnůkoronnnnůö Originally a Chinese story, it became a Japanese classic when it was transformed into a long rakugo story by San'yűtei Ench˘ (1839~1900). Otsuyu (Nakamura Shichinosuke) the daughter of a samurai family falls in love with a young samurai named Shinzabur˘ (Ichikawa Somegor˘), but she falls sick and dies when he stops visiting her. Her ghost begins to visit him nightly preceded by the ghost of her nursemaid carrying a lantern decorated with peonies and he welcomes these meetings, not realizing that she is dead. But a priest sees the signs of death and protects Shinzabur˘ with holy amulets and a powerful Buddhist statue. The ghosts then bribe Shinzabur˘ĺs greedy servant Tomoz˘ (Ichikawa Somegor˘) and his wife Omine (Nakamura Shichinosuke) to take the amulets away. The result is that Shinzabur˘ is killed by the ghosts and Tomoz˘ and Omine run away with the money. But the money doesnĺt bring them happiness. This version of the story is not just a tale of ghosts, but shows human treachery and the revolving ironies of fate.
  • Takatsuki: in this relatively modern dance-comedy adapted from the style of classical Ky˘gen farces, the servant Jir˘kaja (Nakamura Kantar˘) is ordered by his lord to buy a takatsuki, which is a kind of ceremonial sake cup on a stand. Jir˘kaja does not understand his lord's orders and is persuaded by a fast-talking geta clog salesman to buy a pair of clogs instead, thinking that this is the stand for which he was sent. After drinking a good amount of sake, he brings his purchase to the lord and responds to the lord's anger with a dance on the clogs, a virtuoso routine inspired by tap dancing, showing off the dancing skills of Nakamura Kantar˘.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    National Theatre (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 12 ~ 24 May 2011 (Zenshinza Gogatsu K˘en)
    Program

    T˘nasuya

    K˘j˘

    Akiba Gongen Kaisen Banashi

    Casting

    Arashi Keishi, Kawarazaki Kunitar˘, Arashi Yoshisabur˘

    Comments

    The Zenshinza celebrates its 80th anniversary. Takeda Haruz˘'s drama "Akiba Gongen Kaisen Banashi" is revived for this event.

     
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