MARCH 2021

5 shows in T˘ky˘ (Kabukiza, National Theatre), 2 in Ky˘to (Minamiza), 1 in Yamaga (Yachiyoza) and 2 tours (Shungy˘ Special Tour, Classics Tour)!

  • Living National Treasure Onoe Kikugor˘, Living National Treasure Nakamura Kichiemon, Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘, Living National Treasure Kataoka Nizaemon, Living National Treasure Nakamura T˘z˘, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Nakamura Senjaku, Nakamura Kinnosuke, Kataoka Ainosuke, Matsumoto K˘shir˘, Nakamura Kankur˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Kataoka Takatar˘, Onoe Sh˘roku, Ichikawa Danz˘, Band˘ Yajűr˘ and Nakamura Karoku perform at the Kabukiza!
  • Onoe Kikunosuke, Band˘ Hikosabur˘, Nakamura Baishi, Nakamura Matagor˘, Kataoka Kamez˘ and Kawarasaki Gonjűr˘ perform at the National Theatre!
  • Young actors perform at the Minamiza!
  • The Nakamuraya brothers Nakamura Kankur˘ and Nakamura Shichinosuke are on tour Shungy˘ Special Tour!
  • Ichikawa Ebiz˘ and Ichikawa Udanji are on tour (Classics Tour) and perform at the Yachiyoza!
  • Kabukiza (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 4 ~ 29 March 2021
    Sangatsu ďkabuki
    March Grand Kabuki
    1st program

    Saruwaka Edo no Hatsuyagura

    Modori Kago Iro ni Aikata

    2nd program

    Ichi-no-Tani Futaba Gunki (Kumagai Jin'ya)

    Yuki no Yűbe Iriya no Azemichi (Naozamurai)

    3rd program A

    Sanmon Gosan no Kiri (Sanmon)

    Sumidagawa

    3rd program B

    Sanmon Gosan no Kiri (Sanmon)

    Yuki

    Kane-ga-Misaki

    Casting

    Living National Treasure Onoe Kikugor˘, Living National Treasure Nakamura Kichiemon, Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘, Living National Treasure Kataoka Nizaemon, Living National Treasure Nakamura T˘z˘, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Nakamura Senjaku, Nakamura Kinnosuke, Kataoka Ainosuke, Matsumoto K˘shir˘, Nakamura Kankur˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Kataoka Takatar˘, Onoe Sh˘roku, Ichikawa Danz˘, Band˘ Yajűr˘, Nakamura Karoku, Ichikawa Komaz˘, Band˘ Kamez˘, Nakamura Kash˘, Nakamura Tanenosuke, Nakamura Kangyoku

    Comments

    The March Grand Kabuki at the Kabukiza. The A program is staged the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th and 29th of March 2021. The B program is staged the 15th, 16th, 20th, 21st, 27th and 28th of March 2021. There is no performance the 11th and the 22nd of March 2021.

  • Saruwaka Edo no Hatsuyagura: Kabuki began with sensuous dances by a woman named Okuni and comic routines with a man named Saruwaka, who eventually led to the founding of the Nakamuraza, the oldest and most important of the three licensed theatres of Edo. This play evokes those figures and the earliest days of Kabuki. Starring Nakamura Kankur˘ in the role of Saruwaka. Featuring Nakamura Shichinosuke, Nakamura Senjaku and Band˘ Yajűr˘.
  • Modori Kago: two palanquin bearers, one from ďsaka, the other from Edo (pre-modern T˘ky˘), decide to stop and rest. As they do so, each boasts of the respective merits of his native town. Finally, the little apprentice courtesan (kamuro) they have been carrying, alights from the palanquin and joins them in their dance. Featuring Onoe Sh˘roku as the palanquin bearer from ďsaka (in reality Ishikawa Goemon), Kataoka Ainosuke as the palanquin bearer from Edo (in reality Goemon's arch-enemy Mashiba Hisayoshi) and Nakamura Kangyoku as the kamuro.
  • Kumagai Jin'ya: this play is a dramatization of the clash between the Genji general Kumagai Jir˘ Naozane and the Heike warrior Taira no Atsumori at the battle of Ichi-no-Tani, one of the most famous passages of the epic "Tales of the Heike". In the Kabuki version, on the cryptic orders of the Genji leader Yoshitsune, Kumagai hides the enemy warrior Atsumori and has his own son take the warrior's place. On the battlefield, Kumagai has to kill his own son in Atsumori's place. Things become worse when his wife Sagami and Atsumori's mother Fuji-no-Kata arrive at his camp. In the highlight of the play, he tells them the story of his mortal battle with Atsumori, keeping Atsumori's well-being and his own sacrifice a secret. He then shows the head of Atsumori for inspection by his leader to see if he has interpreted his orders correctly. This performance stars Living National Treasure Kataoka Nizaemon as Kumagai, with Kataoka Nizaemon's son Kataoka Takatar˘ as Kumagai's wife Sagami, Ichikawa Monnosuke as Fuji-no-Kata, Nakamura Kinnosuke as Yoshitsune and Nakamura Karoku as Midaroku.
  • Naozamurai: the thief Naozamurai has been betrayed and is on the run. He risks one last meeting with his lover, the courtesan Michitose, but he has never revealed his true identity to her and as far as she knows, he is a wealthy merchant. On a freezing, snow-bound night, in a romantic scene accompanied by the lush and erotic singing of Kiyomoto narrative music, the two lovers Naozamurai and Michitose meet and part forever. Starring Living National Treasure Onoe Kikugor˘ as Naozamurai and Nakamura Tokiz˘ as Michitose. Featuring also Living National Treasure Nakamura T˘z˘ and Ichikawa Danz˘.
  • Sanmon: though short, this play is one of the most visually spectacular in Kabuki. The famous villain Ishikawa Goemon (Living National Treasure 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 (Matsumoto K˘shir˘).
  • Sumidagawa:
    (The Sumida River)
    One of the most famous musical plays in Kabuki with a deep and universal theme. A mother wanders in madness searching for her son, stolen away by a slave trader. She comes to the Sumida River and encounters a boatman who tells her a sad story about a small boy who died on the road here. Much to her shock, this is none other than her own child. Staring Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘ as the mother and Nakamura Ganjir˘ as the boatman.
  • Yuki: Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘ appears as an ďsaka courtesan named Soseki, expressing her feelings of loneliness after having been jilted by her lover and who has decided to become a nun. This jiuta dance is performed in a restrained chamber style.
  • Kane no Misaki: Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘ appears as a beautiful young girl, expressing her love and feelings of jealousy. This is the same story as the colorful "Musume D˘j˘ji" dance, but is performed in a restrained chamber style.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

    National Theatre (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 4 ~ 27 March 2021
    Program

    Toki-ha Ima Kiky˘ no Hataage (Badarai)

    Casting

    Onoe Kikunosuke, Band˘ Hikosabur˘, Nakamura Baishi, Nakamura Matagor˘, Kataoka Kamez˘, Kawarasaki Gonjűr˘, Nakamura Mantar˘, Band˘ Shingo, Nakamura Takanosuke, Nakamura Kichinoj˘

    Comments

    This month, the program at the National Theatre is called Kabuki Meisaku Nyűmon (literally 'Introduction to Kabuki Masterpieces'). The drama "Badarai no Mitsuhide" is staged with Onoe Kikunosuke in the role of Takechi Mitsuhide. There is no performance the 10th, the 11th and the 19th of March 2021.

  • Badarai: based on the true historical story of Akechi Mitsuhide who betrayed his lord Oda Nobunaga and ruled Japan for a few short days before being defeated by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, this play focuses on Mitsuhide and his tortured relationship with the arrogant and unreasonable lord Nobunaga. It is one of the few period plays by Tsuruya Nanboku IV still performed today and brings the same sharp psychological insight and eye for the attractiveness of evil characters that make his ghost plays and plays about commoners so powerful. Featuring Onoe Kikunosuke, Nakamura Baishi, Nakamura Matagor˘ and Band˘ Hikosabur˘ in the roles of Takechi Mitsuhide (because of strict censorship, the real names were not used), Mitsuhide's wife Satsuki, Yasuda Sakubŕ and Oda Harunaga.
  • Minamiza (Ky˘to)
    Dates 6 ~ 21 March 2021
    Sangatsu Hanagata Kabuki
    March Young Actors Kabuki
    Program A

    Kabuki no Miryoku

    Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura

  • Yoshinoyama
  • Kawatsura H˘gen Yakata
  • Program B

    Kabuki no Miryoku

    Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura

  • Yoshinoyama
  • Kawatsura H˘gen Yakata
  • Casting

    Nakamura Kazutar˘, Onoe Ukon, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Nakamura Yonekichi, Nakamura Fukunosuke, Nakamura Utanosuke

    Comments

    A special Young Actors Kabuki program in Ky˘to at the Minamiza.

  • Kabuki no Miryoku: a lively presentation on stage about the enchantment of Kabuki. Presentation made by Nakamura Hashinosuke or Nakamura Yonekichi in the A program and by Onoe Ukon or Nakamura Kazutar˘ in the B program.
  • Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura:
    (Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees)
    This play was first performed in the Bunraku puppet theatre and is an epic story about the famous 12th century general Yoshitsune fleeing from the wrath of his brother Yoritomo, after the end of the war. Although Yoshitsune is the title character, the main characters of the play are actually different and this month features the three acts of the play about the magical fox Tadanobu.
  • Yoshinoyama: this is a musical travel scene. Hearing that Yoshitsune has taken refuge in the mountains of Yoshino, Yoshitsuneĺs loyal retainer Tadanobu (Onoe Ukon in the A program; Nakamura Hashinosuke in the B program) and his lover Shizuka Gozen (Nakamura Kazutar˘ in the A program; Nakamura Yonekichi in the B program) go to try to meet him there. Although Tadanobu keeps disappearing, he always appears when Shizuka Gozen plays the precious drum that she received from Yoshitsune. In dance Tadanobu recounts episodes from the Genpei war, including the battle in which his brother died to save Yoshitsuneĺs life.
  • Kawatsura H˘gen Yakata:
    (The Mansion of the Priest Kawatsura)
    Yoshitsune (Nakamura Hashinosuke or Nakamura Yonekichi in the A program; Onoe Ukon or Nakamura Kazutar˘ in the B program) has taken refuge in the mountains of Yoshino at the mansion of an old ally. Tadanobu (Onoe Ukon in the A program; Nakamura Hashinosuke in the B program) arrives but has no recollection of Shizuka being placed under his care. Shizuka (Nakamura Kazutar˘ in the A program; Nakamura Yonekichi in the B program) herself soon arrives with the other Tadanobu and after an investigation they discover that he is actually a fox. In a touching story, the fox tells how he took on human form to be close to the hand drum which is made from the skins of his fox parents. Moved, Yoshitsune gives the fox the drum and he flies away joyously. This scene features the Kabuki technique of flying through the air (chűnori).
  • Sources: Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

    Shungy˘ Special Tour
    Dates 30 March ~ 4 April 2021
    Shungy˘ Tokubetsu K˘en
    The Dawn of Spring Special Performances
    Program

    Tsuru Kame

    T˘ku K˘nÔ

    Ayatsuri Sanbas˘

    Niwaka Jishi

    Casting

    Nakamura Kankur˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Nakamura Tsurumatsu, Nakamura Kantar˘, Nakamura Ch˘zabur˘, Nakamura Kosabur˘, Nakamura Ich˘, Sawamura Kunihisa

    Comments

    The 2nd edition of the Spring Tour of the Nakamuraya guild with performances in 4 cities (5 venues). The second item (T˘ku K˘nÔ) in this program is a talk on stage (literally 'Talk Corner'). In March, the troupe performs in Kariya at the Kariya Cultural Center Iris the 30th of March and in Higashi-Hiroshima at the Higashi Hiroshima Arts & Culture Hall Kurara the 31st of March.

  • Tsuru Kame: the crane (tsuru) is said to live for a thousand years, the tortoise (kame) is said to live for ten thousand years. Together, they are a traditional symbol of longevity. There is no particular plot to this play, but simply shows a visit by an okina to the Moon Pavilion where two courtiers dance as the spirits of the crane and tortoise. Starring Nakamura Kankur˘ as the okina, Nakamura Shichinosuke as the spirit of the crane and Nakamura Tsurumatsu as the spirit of the tortoise.
  • T˘ku K˘nÔ: a talk on stage (literally 'Talk Corner') with Nakamura Kankur˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Nakamura Kantar˘ and Nakamura Ch˘zabur˘.
  • Ayatsuri Sanbas˘:
    (The Puppet Sanbas˘)
    The Sanbas˘ is part of the ritual play "Okina", a prayer for prosperity and in Kabuki the vigorous Sanbas˘ dance is often performed separately. To make the dance especially auspicious, the old man Okina and attendant Senzai appear as well. In Kabuki, the Sanbas˘ dance appears in all kinds of versions. In this particular version, the Sanbas˘ is actually a giant marionette (Nakamura Tsurumatsu), dancing lightly until his antics tangle his strings, creating problems for his puppeteer.
  • Niwaka Jishi: this lively dance evokes the atmosphere of an Edo period festival. The highlight of the piece is the lion dance performed by two of the handsome young men of the neighborhood. Starring Nakamura Shichinosuke (the geisha Otaka) and Nakamura Kankur˘ (the tobigashira Matsuz˘). Featuring also Nakamura Kantar˘ and Nakamura Ch˘zabur˘ as tobi.
  • Sources: Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

    Classics Tour
    Dates 5 ~ 24 March 2021
    Koten he no Izanai
    Invitation to the Classics
    Program

    Shiraby˘shi no Hana no En

    Benten Musume Meo no Shiranami

  • Hamamatsuya
  • Inasegawa Seizoroi
  • Casting

    Ichikawa Ebiz˘, Ichikawa Udanji, Nakamura Kotar˘, Kataoka Ichiz˘, Ichikawa Omez˘, Ichikawa Kudanji, ďtani Hiromatsu

    Comments

    A special tour in 14 cities for the heir of the Naritaya guild.

  • Shiraby˘shi no Hana no En:
    (The flowery Banquet of the shiraby˘shi)
    In the medieval period there were beautiful dancers called shiraby˘shi who wore male court costume. they were famous for dances called otoko mai or "male dance". In this dance, Nakamura Kotar˘ evokes one of these beauties of ancient Japan.
  • 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. Ichikawa Ebiz˘ stars as Benten Koz˘, with Ichikawa Omez˘ as Nippon Daemon, Ichikawa Udanji as Nang˘ Rikimaru, Ichikawa Kudanji as Tadanobu Rihei and Nakamura Kotar˘ as Akaboshi Jűzabur˘.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

    Yachiyoza (Yamaga)
    Dates 26 ~ 29 March 2021
    Ichikawa Ebiz˘ Yachiyoza Tokubetsu K˘en
    Ichikawa Ebiz˘ Yachiyoza Special Performances
    Program

    Shibai-mae Mimasu no Nigiwai

    Benten Musume Meo no Shiranami

  • Hamamatsuya
  • Inasegawa Seizoroi
  • Tama Usagi

    Hane no Kamuro

    Casting

    Ichikawa Ebiz˘, Ichikawa Udanji, Nakamura Kotar˘, Kataoka Ichiz˘, Ichikawa Omez˘, Ichikawa Kudanji, ďtani Hiromatsu, Horikoshi Kangen, Ichikawa Botan

    Comments

    A special program starring Ichikawa Ebiz˘ in Yamaga at the Yachiyoza, a traditional wooden-built theater.

  • Shibai-mae: this item in the program is of the type called Shibai-mae (literally in Front of the Theatre). The stage is made to resemble a lively theatre district and all actors of the troupe are gathered to celebrate the Naritaya guild and to pray for Kabuki's everlasting prosperity. Mimasu, the three measures (of rice), is the mon of the Ichikawa Danjűr˘/Ichikawa Ebiz˘ lines of actors
  • 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. Ichikawa Ebiz˘ stars as Benten Koz˘, with Ichikawa Omez˘ as Nippon Daemon, Ichikawa Udanji as Nang˘ Rikimaru, Ichikawa Kudanji as Tadanobu Rihei and Nakamura Kotar˘ as Akaboshi Jűzabur˘.
  • Tama Usagi:
    (The Rabbit in the Moon)
    This is a dance with musical accompaniment provided by the Kiyomoto Narrative Ensemble. It is the night of a full autumn moon. Looking up at the round moon, we see the shadow of a rabbit making rice dumplings. Before long, it springs out, landing in a field of pampas grass. It proceeds to demonstrate how it makes rice dumplings with a pestle and mortar. After this, it begins to relate a famous children's tale about Mt. Kachikachi, in which a tanuki racoon dog comes to blows with a rabbit. The story mixes in the antics of an elderly man and woman. On this moonlit night, the rabbit (Horikoshi Kangen) seems in festive mood and continues to make merry through the night.
  • Hane no Kamuro: a kamuro (Ichikawa Botan) celebrates the new year in the traditional way by playing shuttlecock and battledore as her 'big sisters' in the pleasure quarter take a snap.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide Website or Sh˘chiku Kabuki Official Website

     
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