MARCH 2010

5 shows in T˘ky˘ (Kabukiza, National Theatre, Nissay Theatre) and 2 shows in Ky˘to (Minamiza)!

Kabukiza (T˘ky˘)
Dates 2 ~ 28 March 2010 (Onagori Sangatsu ďkabuki)
Kabukiza Sayonara K˘en
MatinÚe

Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami (Kamo Zutsumi)

Sanmon Gosan no Kiri (Sanmon)

Onna Shibaraku

Afternoon

Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami (Hipp˘ Denju)

Benten Musume Meo no Shiranami

  • Hamamatsuya
  • Inasegawa Seizoroi
  • Evening

    Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami (D˘my˘ji)

    Shakky˘

    Casting

    Band˘ Tamasabur˘, Kataoka Nizaemon, Nakamura Kichiemon, Onoe Kikugor˘, Matsumoto K˘shir˘, Nakamura Tomijűr˘, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Nakamura Baigyoku, Nakamura Kaishun, Nakamura Shibajaku, Kataoka Gat˘, Kataoka Hidetar˘, Ichikawa Sadanji, Onoe Kikunosuke, Kataoka Takatar˘, Onoe Sh˘roku, Nakamura T˘z˘, Band˘ Yajűr˘, Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Takanosuke

    Comments

    15th of the 16 Kabukiza Sayonara K˘en, the Kabukiza Farewell Performances, which will be held up to April 2010. This month program features three sections of "Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami" ("Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy"). This is a very long play about Sugawara no Michizane (known in this play as Kan Sh˘j˘), a high-ranking imperial court minister who was a brilliant calligrapher and scholar. Political rivalries forced him to be exiled to distant Kyűshű, where he died. But after Michizaneĺs death, he became revered as the god of learning.

  • Kamo Zutsumi:
    (The Kamo Riverbank)
    1st section of "Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami". Young Sakuramaru (Nakamura Baigyoku) serves imperial prince Tokiyo who has fallen in love with Princess Kariya, Michizaneĺs 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 Michizaneĺs 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.
  • Sanmon: though short, this play is one of the most visually spectacular in Kabuki. The famous villain Ishikawa Goemon (Nakamura Kichiemon) enjoys a sea of cherry blossoms while sitting on top the large gate of Nanzenji Temple. His enjoyment of the scene is cut short, though, by the appearance below of his arch-nemesis, the general Mashiba Hisayoshi (Onoe Kikugor˘).
  • 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 Band˘ Tamasabur˘ as the heroine and Kataoka Gat˘ as the larger-than-life villain, with Nakamura Kichiemon as a friendly stage attendant who makes sure that everything goes right.
  • Hipp˘ Denju:
    2nd section of "Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami". Michizane, in this play called Kan Sh˘j˘ (Kataoka Nizaemon), after his title, knows that he will soon be exiled. Before he goes, he hands over the scroll of his secrets to his most talented student Genz˘ (Nakamura Baigyoku). But Genz˘ was disowned forever for having an affair with Tonami (Nakamura Shibajaku), another servant in the household. Only the intervention of Kan Sh˘j˘ĺs wife Sonoo-no-Mae (Nakamura Kaishun) saved their lives. Even though Genz˘ receives his masterĺs teachings, he is not forgiven. Sugawara is arrested, but as Genz˘ and his wife leave, they rescue Kan Sh˘j˘ĺs young son and take him to safety.
  • 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 Matsumoto K˘shir˘ as Nippon Daemon, Nakamura Kichiemon as Nang˘ Rikimaru, Ichikawa Sadanji as Tadanobu Rihei and Nakamura Baigyoku as Akaboshi Jűzabur˘.
  • D˘my˘ji:
    3rd section of "Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami". On his way to exile, Kan Sh˘j˘ (Kataoka Nizaemon) is allowed to stop at the home of his aunt, Kakuju (Band˘ Tamasabur˘). There he carves a statue of himself for his aunt. But Princess Kariya (Kataoka Takatar˘) is actually Kakuju's daughter and was adopted by Kan Sh˘j˘. She has come desperately hoping to say farewell to him, but she is punished severely by Kakuju for having been responsible for Kan Sh˘j˘'s downfall. At the same time, Kakuju has another daughter, Tatsuta (Kataoka Hidetar˘) and Tatsuta's husband Sukune Tar˘ (Band˘ Yajűr˘) and father-in-law (Nakamura Karoku) are plotting to assassinate Kan Sh˘j˘ by pretending to be the emissary to take him to exile and then killing him. But miraculously, the statue Kan Sh˘j˘ carved comes to life and saves his life. Finally, when the real emissary Terukuni (Kataoka Gat˘) appears, Kan Sh˘j˘ must part from his family as he goes into exile.
  • Shakky˘:
    (The Stone Bridge)
    There are many plays about shishi or lion spirits in the Asian tradition, but the shishi is not actually a lion, it is a mythical animal that guards the stone bridge (Shakky˘) leading to the Buddhist paradise of Monju, the god of wisdom. Featuring Nakamura Tomijűr˘, his young son Takanosuke and Matsumoto K˘shir˘.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    National Theatre (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 5 ~ 27 March 2010 (Sangatsu Hanagata Wakashu Kabuki)
    Program

    Kinmon Gosan no Kiri
    t˘shi ky˘gen production including the famous "Sanmon" scene

    Casting

    Nakamura Hashinosuke, Nakamura Senjaku

    Comments

    Revival at the National Theatre of Namiki Gohei's Kamigata masterpiece "Kinmon Gosan no Kiri":

  • Kinmon Gosan no Kiri: this play is famous for the twenty-minute scene where the great thief Ishikawa Goemon sits on the second floor of the gate of Nanzenji Temple in Ky˘to and admires the view, the realm that he wishes to control. But under the gate is Mashiba Hisayoshi (the Kabuki name for Toyotomi Hideyoshi) the ruler of Japan, disguised as a humble Buddhist pilgrim. In that scene, this key confrontation is a crystallization of the stylized beauty of Kabuki. But this scene and this confrontation are just one short part of a very long play full of intrigue and spectacle. Ishikawa Goemon is not just a great thief, he is actually from China and his Chinese father has disguised himself as Japanese and gained a position of great responsibility in the Japanese court. But he is unmasked and his plots revealed and he commits suicide. However, Goemon continues his fatherĺs quest to rule Japan. Starring Nakamura Hashinosuke as Goemon and Nakamura Senjaku as Mashiba Hisayoshi.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Nissay Theatre (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 6 ~ 26 March 2010
    Program

    Somemoy˘ Chűgi no Goshuin
    (Hosokawa no Katakiuchi)

    Casting

    Kataoka Ainosuke, Ichikawa Somegor˘, Kamimura Kichiya, Ichikawa Danjir˘, Ichikawa Shun'en, Ichikawa En'ya

    Comments

  • Hosokawa no Katakiuchi: ďkawa Tomoemon (Ichikawa Somegor˘), a samurai, yearns for the love of Innami Kazuma (Kataoka Ainosuke), a page at the service of the Hosokawa clan. He takes the decision to reject his own rank, to go into service as a page at the Hosakawa's mansion. The two young men not only indulge themselves with shűd˘, but become also righteous brothers, vowing to take revenge against Yokoyama Zusho (Ichikawa En'ya), who was responsible for the downfall of Kazuma's father. Eventually, Tomoemon and Kazuma succeed in striking their enemy but, at the end of the fight, a terrible fire is about to destroy the treasure of the Hosokawa clan, where is kept a precious sealed certificate. Tomoemon jumps into the fire devastating the kura ... will Kazuma follow his lover into the flames? Featuring also Ichikawa Danjir˘ and Kamimura Kichiya in the roles of Hosokawa Ecchű-no-Kami and Hosokawa's okugata.
  • Minamiza (Ky˘to)
    Dates 5 ~ 27 March 2010 (Sangatsu Hanagata Kabuki)
    MatinÚe

    Futatsu Ch˘ch˘ Kuruwa Nikki (Sum˘ba)

    Sonezaki Shinjű

    Renjishi

    Evening

    Kagamiyama Gonichi no Iwafuji

    Casting

    Nakamura Kanjaku, Nakamura Shid˘, Ichikawa Kamejir˘, Ichikawa Emisabur˘, Nakamura Kikaku, Onoe Matsuya

    Comments

  • Sum˘ba: "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˘. In order to help his master Yamazakiya Yogor˘ (Ichikawa Kamejir˘) buy out the contract of the beautiful Azuma (Onoe Matsuya), the senior wrestler Nuregami Ch˘gor˘ throws a match, letting the younger wrestler Hanaregoma Ch˘kichi win, hoping to get his help. But Ch˘kichi loses his temper and the two end up competing in a test of pride. Starring popular actor Nakamura Shid˘ as Ch˘gor˘ and Ichikawa Kamejir˘ as Ch˘kichi.
  • Sonezaki Shinjű: a young merchant named Tokubŕ has long been in love with the courtesan Ohatsu and is diligently trying to buy out her contract. But he is swindled out of his money by someone he considered a friend. Then he is beaten and humiliated in the precincts of the Ikutama shrine. He sneaks into the teahouse where Ohatsu is and she hides him under the veranda. At this point, Tokubŕ's "friend" comes and calls him a criminal. Ohatsu fiercely defends Tokubŕ and asks whether he is prepared to defend his honor by committing love suicide. Silently, from under the veranda, he holds her bare foot and draws it across his neck. The journey to the forest where they commit love suicide is like a dream, half-way between this world and the next and has some of the most famous lines in Japanese theatre: "Farewell to this world and to this night, farewell. To what should we who go to our deaths be likened? We are like the frost on the road leading to the graveyard, vanishing with each step". Starring Nakamura Kanjaku and his son Nakamura Kazutar˘ in the roles of Tokubŕ and Ohatsu.
  • Renjishi: 2 entertainers dance a tale of the legendary shishi or lion-like spirits that live at the foot of a holy Buddhist mountain. There is a comic interlude with 2 Buddhist pilgrims. Then, the shishi themselves appear and perform their dance with wild shaking of their long manes. The dance shows a parent shishi forcing his cub to undergo harsh training in order to grow up strong. This theme is often associated with the training a parent actor gives his son. This performance features Nakamura Shid˘ in the role of the parent shishi and his son Onoe Matsuya in the role of the cub.
  • Gonichi no Iwafuji:
    (The Return of Iwafuji)
    This play is a sequel to an earlier classic in which the evil lady-in-waiting Iwafuji caused the death of her rival Onoe by excessively persecuting her, including beating Onoe with a saddle. One ear later, Onoe's servant Onoe II (Ichikawa Emisabur˘), who avenged her death by killing Iwafuji, has come to pray for the comfort of Iwafuji's spirit (Ichikawa Kamejir˘). Iwafuji's bones come together magically and her spirit floats among the cherry blossoms. Later the spirit appears at the mansion to beat Onoe II with a saddle. Evil forces are plotting to take over the Taga household where Onoe works. The servant Torii Matasuke (Ichikawa Kamejir˘) is harboring the faithful retainer Motome (Onoe Matsuya). He decides to kill his lord's consort, an evil woman who is one of the main forces in the plot, but through the scheming of another, he ends up killing his lord's wife instead. The death is blamed on Motome, and Matasuke must take his own life to clear Motome's name. In the end, the lord defeats all the evil forces threatening his realm and the ghost of Iwafuji returns to the afterworld. This play is one of the many that the popular star Ennosuke has revived and adapted to his own personal style, and it features spectacular special effects and large-scale fight scenes.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

     
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