The 10th anniversary of the death of late Nakamura Utaemon VI is commemorated at the Shimbashi Embuj˘
with the staging of both "Goten" and "Yoshiwara Suzume":
Onshű no Kanata-ni: a rare staging of a famous novel by Kikuchi Kan. A man kills a samurai and flees.
He becomes a Buddhist monk, and seeing a stone cliff in Kyűshű, decides to carve a tunnel through to atone for his killing.
The son of the man he killed comes to avenge his fatherĺs death, but the monk asks him to wait until the tunnel is finished.
With the completion of the tunnel comes forgiveness and a capacity to go beyond the spirit of vengeance.
Featuring Onoe Kikunosuke, Ichikawa Somegor˘, Onoe Sh˘roku and Nakamura Karoku.
Meiboku Sendai Hagi: this play is about the attempt to take over one of
the most famous samurai households in the Edo period, the Date clan
ruling Sendai, a scandal that caused a sensation in its day.
After the death of the lord of the clan, his young heir is the target of
villains. Masaoka (Nakamura Kaishun), the boy's nurse is desperately afraid that he
will be poisoned. She refuses to let anyone see him who might try to
assassinate him and attempts to keep him safe in the women's quarters
where men are forbidden. She even fixes his meal in her quarters using
her delicate tea ceremony implements to cook rice. The plotting faction does
not give up, though, and sends poison in the form of candy as a present
from the Sh˘gun. Masaoka's son Senmatsu sacrifices his life for the young
lord by eating the poisoned candy, and when he is killed by the evil Yashio (Nakamura Baigyoku),
Masaoka thinks only of protecting her lord. Her fierce devotion to duty convinces the
plotters that she is on their side. Masaoka's actions help save the young lord,
and only when she is alone can she grieve for her son.
As another faithful retainer Otokonosuke (Nakamura Kash˘), stands guard underneath
the room, the evil Nikki Danj˘ (Matsumoto K˘shir˘) appears as a giant rat, but then
slips away, walking calmly through the clouds.
Featuring also Nakamura Fukusuke (Okinoi) and Nakamura Shikan (Sakae Gozen).
Gosho no Goroz˘: a portrait of the Yoshiwara
pleasure quarters at the height of its splendor. Rival gangs dressed
in the height of fashion exchange stately speeches before fighting
in the elaborate poetic cadences of Kawatake Mokuami, the last great playwright of Kabuki.
Goroz˘ is the handsome leader of a gang, but his lover, the top courtesan
Satsuki pretends to reject him to save his life. Tragedy strikes when Goroz˘
is driven to revenge. Starring Onoe Kikugor˘ as Goroz˘, Nakamura Kichiemon as his rival in love,
Nakamura Fukusuke as Goroz˘'s lover, the courtesan Satsuki and Onoe Kikunosuke as ďshű,
a courtesan who is tragically killed.
Ukifune: sixty years ago, as Japan was struggling to rebuild from the ashes of World War II, the lights came back to the
Kabuki world with a lavish modern production of the tenth-century romance, "The Tale of Genji". This month, there will be a staging of
the famous final section of the novel, the ten chapters set in the village of Uji that shows the story of the second generation
of the main characters and the tragedy of the woman Ukifune who, much to her misfortune, is desired by the most handsome and powerful
young men of the land. Starring Onoe Kikunosuke, Nakamura Kichiemon and Ichikawa Somegor˘ in the roles of Ukifune, Niou-no-Miya and Kaoru.
Featuring also Onoe Kikugor˘ and Nakamura Shibajaku.
Fudeya K˘bei: first performed in 1885, this play by Kawatake Mokuami
shows the disruptions in society caused by the Meiji Restoration.
In the Edo period, the samurai were on top of society, but in the new
Meiji world, a samurai unable to find a new way of becoming a success
got left behind. This play stars Matsumoto K˘shir˘ as a former samurai named K˘bei,
who makes a meager living making writing brushes. Since his wife has died,
he must raise his three children by himself, but his oldest daughter is blind
and the youngest boy is a baby. K˘bei is helped by a generous woman (Nakamura Kaishun),
but everything that he has is taken by a moneylender and he decides that
he and his family have no choice but to commit suicide. Suddenly, there
is the sound of merry music from a party at the house of a rich man next
door and something in K˘bei snaps. He starts to dance madly around,
doing the dance from the N˘ theatre of the ghost of Tomomori with a
ragged broom in place of a magnificent halbard. This scene is the
highlight of the play and is a virtuoso test of the actor's skills.
Yoshiwara Suzume: in this dance, a husband and wife come to the
Yoshiwara pleasure quarters to sell caged sparrows for
a ceremony to gain Buddhist merit by releasing living things. Caged sparrows were
also images for the courtesans of the pleasure quarters,
and the two dance a romantic meeting between a courtesan and her lover,
showing the lively and erotic atmosphere of the pleasure quarters.
Starring Nakamura Baigyoku and Nakamura Fukusuke as the husband and wife.
Source: Earphone Guide website