MAY 2012

2 in ďsaka (Sh˘chikuza) and 6 shows in T˘ky˘ (Shinbashi Enbuj˘, National Theatre, Heisei Nakamuraza, Nikkei Hall)!

Sh˘chikuza (ďsaka)
Dates 3 ~ 27 May 2012 (Dankikusai Gogatsu ďkabuki)
Dankikusai May Grand Kabuki
MatinÚe

Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami (Terakoya)

Migawari Zazen

Koi Bikyaku Yamato ďrai (Fűin Giri)

Evening

Ehon Taik˘ki

Takatsuki

Yűrei Kasha

Casting

Ichikawa Danjűr˘, Onoe Kikugor˘, Sakata T˘jűr˘, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Band˘ Mitsugor˘, Ichikawa Ebiz˘, Onoe Kikunosuke, Onoe Sh˘roku, Ichikawa Sadanji, Ichikawa Danz˘, Nakamura T˘z˘, Kataoka Ichiz˘, Band˘ Shűch˘, Kawarazaki Gonjűr˘, Kamimura Kichiya, Band˘ Kamesabur˘, Nakamura Baishi, Band˘ Kametoshi, Band˘ Minosuke, Onoe Ukon

Comments

The traditional May dankikusai performances are held for the 3rd time in Kabuki history in ďsaka at the Sh˘chikuza.

  • Terakoya: Genz˘ and his wife Tonami run a small school and are protecting Kan Sh˘j˘'s son and heir, saying that he is their son. However, word has gotten out Kan Sh˘j˘'s son is there and Genz˘ has been ordered to behead him. Moreover, Matsu˘maru is to come to inspect the head. Their only alternative is to kill one of the other students as a substitute, but all of the students are farmer's children who could never pass for the son of a court aristocrat. However, a new boy arrives that day and Genz˘ makes the terrible decision to kill him in the place of his lord. As it turns out, Matsu˘maru has sent his own son to be sacrificed, because of his family's long loyalty to Kan Sh˘j˘. But he must face the most terrible situation for a father, inspecting the head of his own son and lying when he says that it is the genuine head of the son of Kan Sh˘j˘. Finally Matsu˘maru reveals his true feelings to Genz˘ and he and his wife Chiyo mourn their dead son. Starring Onoe Sh˘roku as Matsu˘maru, Ichikawa Ebiz˘ as Genz˘, Onoe Kikunosuke as Chiyo and Nakamura Baishi as Tonami.
  • Migawari Zazen: a dance play adopted from a classical ky˘gen farce. A man (Onoe Kikugor˘) wants nothing more than to visit his lover Hanako, but he has one important problem, his homely and overbearing wife (Ichikawa Danjűr˘). He creates a scheme saying that he will be practicing Zen meditation all night and has his servant (Kawarazaki Gonjűr˘) 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.
  • 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 Sakata T˘jűr˘ as Chűbŕ, Onoe Kikunosuke as Umegawa, Band˘ Mitsugor˘ as Chűbŕ's treacherous friend Tanbaya Hachiemon and Nakamura T˘z˘ as Oen, the proprietress of the teahouse. Featuring also Ichikawa Sadanji.
  • Ehon Taik˘ki: Akechi Mitsuhide (known in this play as Takechi Mitsuhide) is known as the "three day ruler of Japan", having only control for a brief time after attacking and killing Oda Nobunaga (known in this play as Harunaga) and before being defeated in turn by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (known in this play as Mashiba Hisayoshi). In the most famous act of this play, after assassinating Harunaga, Mitsuhide comes to see his mother, but she refuses to forgive him for betraying his lord. Mitsuhide sees his son and mother both die before his eyes as he tries to defeat his rival Hisayoshi, but instead is confronted with the drama of his own immediate family. Starring Ichikawa Danjűr˘ and Onoe Kikugor˘ as Mitsuhide and Hisayoshi. Featuring also Nakamura Tokiz˘, Onoe Kikunosuke, Nakamura Baishi, Nakamura T˘z˘ and Ichikawa Ebiz˘ as Mitsuhide's wife Misao, Mitsuhide's son Jűjir˘, Jűjir˘'s fiancee Hatsugiku, Mitsuhide's mother Satsuki and Sat˘ Masakiyo.
  • Takatsuki: in this relatively modern dance-comedy adapted from the style of classical Ky˘gen farces, the servant Jir˘kaja (Ichikawa Ebiz˘) is ordered by his lord (Kataoka Ichiz˘) 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 (Onoe Sh˘roku) 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.
  • Yűrei Kasha:
    (Rent a Ghost)
    Yamamoto Shűgor˘ (1903~1967) is known for his touching stories of nameless commoners in the Edo period striving to live meaningful lives against impossible odds. But this particular story is an outrageous comedy about Yaroku (Band˘ Mitsugor˘), a barrel maker who is so lazy that his loving wife Okane (Kamimura Kichiya) leaves him until he decides to work. But one day, a sexy, vengeful ghost named Someji (Nakamura Tokiz˘) falls in love with him. They spend night after night drinking together, but finally, to make ends meet, they decide to start a business renting out vengeful ghosts, which is when Yaroku's troubles really begin. Also featuring Kataoka Ichiz˘ and Nakamura Baishi in the roles of Mataz˘ and Ochiyo.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Heisei Nakamuraza (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 3 ~ 28 May 2012 (Gogatsu ďkabuki)
    May Grand Kabuki
    MatinÚe

    Honch˘ Nijűshik˘ (Jusshuk˘)

    Yayoi no Hana Asakusa Matsuri

    Kami no Megumi Wag˘ no Torikumi
    (Megumi no Kenka)

    Evening

    Kenuki

    K˘j˘/Shigayama Sanbas˘

    Tsuyu Kosode Mukashi Hachij˘ (Kamiyui Shinza)

    Casting

    Nakamura Kanzabur˘, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Nakamura Senjaku, Nakamura Baigyoku, Nakamura Kinnosuke, Band˘ Yajűr˘, Nakamura Kankur˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Ichikawa Somegor˘, Band˘ Hikosabur˘, Kataoka Kamez˘, Ichimura Manjir˘, Ichikawa Omez˘, Band˘ Shingo, Nakamura Tsurumatsu, Nakamura Kamenoj˘, Nakamura Kunio

    Comments

    Last month of performances for the Heisei Nakamuraza 7-month project, a temporary theater built within the Sumida Park in T˘ky˘ in the popular district of Asakusa. The 700th anniversary of the Sanja Matsuri is celebrated through the staging of the hengemono "Yayoi no Hana Asakusa Matsuri"!

  • 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 Shichinosuke, supported by Nakamura Senjaku, Nakamura Kankur˘ and Band˘ Yajűr˘ in the roles of Katsuyori, Nureginu and Nagao Kenshin.
  • Asakusa Matsuri: in the Edo period, there were virtuoso sets of dances with one actor changing from character to character with a series of spectacular quick changes (hengemono). This is a set of four dances, all featuring Ichikawa Somegor˘ and Nakamura Kankur˘ in a series of roles. It begins in the ancient past with Empress Jing˘ and her aged minister Takeuchi Sukune. It is said that the empress delayed the birth of her child, the emperor, so that she could conduct an attack on the Asian continent. Then the scene changes to the exuberant Sanja festival and shows two fishermen who discover a sacred statue in a river. Suddenly, the fishermen are possessed by the spirits of Good and Evil and dance vigorously. The scene switches to the pleasure quarters with two patrons, a sophisticated urban playboy and a clumsy unfashionable man. Finally it ends on a fantastic note with the two dancers as lion spirits.
  • Megumi no Kenka: they used to say that fights and fires were the flowers of the city of Edo and many plays feature the gallent members of firefighting troupes, who were popular heroes. This particular play depicts a rivalry between the members of the Megumi firefighting band and a group of sum˘ wrestlers, which ultimately is a confrontation between the firefighters, who represent the commoner class and the samurai patrons of the sum˘ wrestlers. The fight begins with a minor incident, but grows into a situation of such tension, that when Tatsugor˘, the leader of the firefighting gang, goes to his final fight, he goes with the full intention that this may be a fight to the death. Before he leaves, he has an emotional parting from his family. Starring Nakamura Kanzabur˘ as Tatsugor˘ and Nakamura Hashinosuke as the leader of the group of sum˘ wrestlers. Featunring also Nakamura Baigyoku, Nakamura Senjaku, Nakamura Kinnosuke, Band˘ Hikosabur˘, Kataoka Kamez˘, Ichimura Manjir˘ and Nakamura Kankur˘.
  • Kenuki: in this play, which retains the light, festive atmosphere of early-period Kabuki, a princess has a mysterious ailment that makes her hair stand on end, an ailment that prevents her from carrying out her long-awaited marriage. Kumedera Danj˘ comes from the groom's household to investigate and finds a plot to take over the household when his tweezers float in mid-air. Nakamura Hashinosuke stars in a play that features the bombastic aragoto style of acting that is normally a specialty of the Naritaya guild. Featuring also Nakamura Senjaku, Nakamura Kinnosuke, Kataoka Kamez˘, Band˘ Hikosabur˘ and Ichimura Manjir˘.
  • K˘j˘/Shigayama Sanbas˘: there is a close relationship between audience and actors in Kabuki and the actors often speak directly to the audience. In this case the stage announcement is by Nakamura Kanzabur˘, the head of the troupe to explain the origins of this dance and how important it is for the Nakamura family of actors since one of the most famous and important members of the Nakamura family, Nakamura Nakaz˘ I, was famous as a dancer in the Shigayama style. Based on the ritual play "Okina" in the theater, the "Sanbas˘" is both an important prayer for prosperity and a vigorous dance. This particular version retains features of one of the oldest styles of Kabuki dance, the Shigayama style and is also known as "Shitadashi Sanbas˘" (The sanbas˘ with his Tongue Sticking Out) takes its title from the sanbas˘ (Nakamura Kankur˘) sticking his tongue out. Some say that this is from absorption in the joy of his dance. Others say that this is an auspicious sign. In any case, this vigorous and joyful dance is exhilarating to watch.
  • 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 Nakamura Kanzabur˘ as Shinza, Band˘ Shingo as Okuma, Nakamura Baigyoku as Chűshichi, Nakamura Hashinosuke as Ch˘bŕ and Band˘ Yajűr˘ as Yatagor˘ Genshichi.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Shinbashi Enbuj˘ (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 1 ~ 25 May 2012 (Gogatsu Hanagata Kabuki)
    May Young Actors Kabuki
    MatinÚe

    Saig˘ to Butahime

    Momijigari

    Onna Goroshi Abura no Jigoku

    Evening

    Chinsetsu Yumihari Zuki

    Casting

    Nakamura Kanjaku, Kataoka Ainosuke, Nakamura Shibajaku, Nakamura Fukusuke, Kataoka Hidetar˘, Nakamura Shid˘, Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Ichikawa Somegor˘, ďtani Tomoemon, Nakamura Kikaku, Ichikawa Komaz˘, Sawamura S˘nosuke, Matsumoto Kingo, Nakamura Matsue, Sawamura Yoshijir˘, Nakamura Utae, Onoe Matsuya, Nakamura Kotar˘, ďtani Hirotar˘, Nakamura Kichinosuke, Nakamura Tanenosuke, Nakamura Tamatar˘, Nakamura Hayato, Nakamura Takanosuke, Nakamura Yonekichi

    Comments

  • Saig˘ to Butahime: this play, written by the early 20th century playwright Ikeda Daigo, presents a love story between an unlikely couple. Saig˘ Takamori (Nakamura Shid˘), a leading member of the Meiji Restoration, was known for his brusque manner and stout physique. Having been disowned by the lord of his clan and pursued by assassins of the enemy faction, the young Saig˘ is hiding in a Ky˘to brothel where he meets the maid Onaka (Nakamura Kanjaku). The plump Onaka has the nickname, "Butahime", or the "pig princess". The two fall in love in a bittersweet romance and having given up all hope in the world, even decide to die together. But in the end, events suddenly turn in Saig˘'s favor. Featuring also Nakamura Kikaku, Band˘ Shinsha, Nakamura Matsue and Onoe Matsuya.
  • Momijigari: the general Taira Koremochi (Nakamura Shid˘) travels to the mountains to view the autumn leaves when he suddenly encounters a beautiful princess (Nakamura Fukusuke) and her entourage. Aided by the elegant dancing of the princess and a large amount of sake, Koremochi falls asleep, not knowing that she is actually a fierce demon. The god of the mountain (Kataoka Ainosuke) dances vigorously to try to wake up Koremochi. But as the demon appears in its true form, Koremochi is saved by the magical power of his sword.
  • Abura no Jigoku: this play has become phenomenally popular in modern times for its hard-boiled sensibility and sensuous killing scene with the protagonists slipping and struggling through puddles of spilled oil, but was virtually ignored at the time it was written. It shows Yohŕ, the wastrel son of a well-to-do merchant, who constantly tries to borrow money from Okichi, the wife of a neighboring oil merchant. Pressed for funds, he tries to blackmail her, but ends up killing her in the long, dream-like scene that gives this plays its title, "the woman killer and the hell of oil". Starring Kataoka Ainosuke and Nakamura Fukusuke in the roles of Yohŕ and Okichi. Featuring also Kataoka Hidetar˘, Nakamura Kanjaku, Nakamura Karoku, Matsumoto Kingo, Band˘ Shinsha and Nakamura Kikaku.
  • Chinsetsu Yumihari Zuki: in 1969, novelist Mishima Yukio (1925~1970) presented a grand Kabuki spectacle at the National Theatre. Based on a long novel by Kyokutei Bakin, it has exiled warriors, imperial ghosts and plotting in exotic Okinawa. The play is a fusion of all the key themes of Mishima: politics, beauty and cruelty. Although the play has been presented twice at the National Theatre, this is a rare full-length performance at another theatre. The play features characters like the exiled warrior Tametomo (Ichikawa Somegor˘) and the evil old woman Kumagimi (Nakamura Kanjaku) in Okinawa. One of the most famous scenes of the play is when Tametomo's wife Princess Shiranui (Nakamura Shichinosuke), who, separated from her husband, has established a fortress deep in the mountains where she gathers warriors to restore her husband's lord to power. She encounters the traitor who brought all their troubles, and executes the man, naked in the snow. Her ladies-in-waiting delicately pound wooden stakes into his body as the princess plays music on the koto recalling her husband. Featuring also Nakamura Shibajaku, Kataoka Ainosuke, Nakamura Fukusuke, ďtani Tomoemon, Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Shid˘ and Band˘ Shinsha.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    National Theatre (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 11 ~ 22 May 2012 (Zenshinza Gogatsu K˘en)
    Program

    Narukami

    Shibahama no Kawazaifu

    Casting

    Arashi Keishi, Kawarazaki Kunitar˘, Fujikawa Yanosuke, Yamazaki Tatsusabur˘, Yamazaki Ryűnosuke, Ikushima Kigor˘, Matsunami Kihachir˘

    Comments

    The usual Zenshinza May program at the National Theatre!

  • Narukami: one of the most popular and universally appealing plays in the Kabuki Jűhachiban collection of plays featuring the bombastic aragoto style of acting. The holy man Narukami (Arashi Keishi) is angry at the Imperial Court and has taken refuge in the mountains where he has imprisoned inside a waterfall the dragon that brings rain, bringing a severe drought to the country. Princess Taema (Kawarazaki Kunitar˘) is sent by the Imperial Court to try to seduce Narukami, destroying his magical powers and release the rain. When he finds that he has been betrayed, anger transforms Narukami into a Thunder God.
  • Shibahama no Kawazaifu: this is a play adapted from a rakugo story by San'yűtei Ench˘ which was originally performed in vaudeville by a solo performer. This tells the story of a man who is a drunk and good for nothing who picks up a leather purse full of coins while fishing. He takes it home and celebrates with a big drinking party. In the morning he asks his wife for the purse, but she insists that it was all a dream and shows how much money he has wasted with his drunken party. He decides to reform and becomes a hard worker. Three years later, the couple now lives comfortably and the wife says that she must apologize. She lied and hid the purse because she felt that this was the only way to get her husband on the right path. He thanks her and this purse which has given them so much. Starring Fujikawa Yanosuke as the man and Yamazaki Tatsusabur˘ as his wife.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Nikkei Hall (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 29 May 2012 (Kabuki Buy˘ K˘en)
    Kabuki Traditional Dances Performances
    Program

    Ame no Gor˘

    Fuji Musume

    B˘ Shibari

    Casting

    Onoe Kikunosuke, Onoe Ukon

    Comments

    The 9th ďtemachiza stage performances at the Nikkei Hall in T˘ky˘.

  • 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 Onoe Ukon as Gor˘.
  • Fuji Musume: the spirit of wisteria blossoms dances of love in the form of a beautiful young maiden. One of Kabuki's most famous and colorful dances, it will feature the dancing skills of Onoe Kikunosuke.
  • B˘ Shibari:
    (Tied to a Pole)
    A dance play based on a classical Ky˘gen farce. A master (Onoe Kikuichir˘) is irritated that his two servants always drink his wine while he is out. He plots with his servant Tar˘kaja (Onoe Ukon) to trick the other servant Jir˘kaja (Onoe Kikunosuke) 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

     
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