|NEWS FROM THE KABUKI WORLD|
The 26th anniversary (27th memorial service) of the passing away of Onoe Sh˘roku II will be commemorated in October 2015 at the Kabukiza. 3 plays will be staged to celebrate this anniversary: "Ya-no-Ne", "Bunshichi Mottoi" and "Kamiyui Shinza". Onoe Sh˘roku II's grandson Onoe Sh˘roku IV will play the roles of Soga Gor˘ Tokimune and the kamiyui Shinza in "Ya-no-Ne" and "Kamiyui Shinza". He has already had the opportunity to perform the former role but it will be the first time he'll perform the latter role. Onoe Sh˘roku has already performed several times the role of Shinza's henchman Katsu. The tradition is that you can't perform the role of Shinza unless you've already played the role of Katsu. The tradition will be fully respected! Onoe Sh˘roku will also play the role of the tobigashira in "Bunshichi Mottoi". An important highlight in these October programs will be the staging of "Akoya" with Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘ in the leading eponympous role. Young actors Onoe Kikunosuke and Band˘ Kamesabur˘ will play the roles of Chichibu no Sh˘ji Shigetada and Iwanaga Saemon Munetsura. It will be the first time for both of them! Another interesting feature in these programs is that two Living National Treasure will perform minor supporting roles in "Kamiyui Shinza": Kataoka Nizaemon and Onoe Kikugor˘ will play the roles of Kagaya Tobŕ and the bonito-seller Shinkichi! Kataoka Nizaemon will also be the star of "Ichij˘ ďkura Monogatari". Let's end this long rambling by reporting that the opening item for the morning program will be the danmari "Otowa-ga-Dake Danmari", which is always staged for important events related to the Otowaya guild. It is worthy to note that there will be 4 Living National Treasures on the Kabukiza stage in October ! [more details].
The latest release (23rd) in the Shinema Kabuki ("Cinema Kabuki") series, the dance-dramas "Kisen" and "B˘ Shibari", which were shot live in high definition in June 2013 and April 2004 at the Kabukiza, will be released all over Japan from the 13th of February 2016.
A commercial campaign has been launched at the National Theatre. It was called daburu kangeki kyanpŕn, literally the double theater-going campaign. People who will attend both the September 2015 Bunraku performances and October 2015 Kabuki performances of "Ise Ondo Koi no Netaba" will be able to get a National Theatre original cotton bag as a present. It is always very interesting to enjoy both the puppets and the Kabuki versions of the same drama. It is also interesting to report that the Kabuki version will be longer (more scenes) than the Bunraku version, which is quite unusual.
Ichikawa Ebiz˘ and his JAPAN THEATER will perform at the Yachiyoza (29 September ~ 4 October 2015;more details), Izumo Taisha (7 October 2015;more details), Nikk˘ T˘sh˘gű (10 ~ 11 October 2015;more details) and Minamiza (23 ~ 26 October 2015;more details) in Fall 2015. He will be supported by Kataoka Ichiz˘, Ichikawa Kudanji and ďtani Hiromatsu. Newly-created dance-dramas like "Mimasu Kuruwa no Kasauri", "Ikari Tomomori" or "Kagutsuchi no Mai" will be staged. The N˘ drama "Funa Benkei" will be performed at the Minamiza (not the full N˘ as it will be a hann˘ performance) by two famous N˘ actors, Kanze Tetsunoj˘ IX and Katayama Kur˘emon X.
The 42nd edition of Koten Gein˘ Kansh˘ Kai (literally the "Classics Entertainment Appreciation Association"), a yearly performance produced by the National TV network NHK, will happen the 28th of October 2015 in T˘ky˘ at the NHK Hall. The program will include traditional music, one ky˘gen and one Kabuki dance-drama [more details].
The casting of "ONE PIECE", the SűpÔ Kabuki Sekando drama based on Oda Eiichir˘'s internationally popular manga "ONE PIECE", has been published [more details]. It will be staged at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘ from the 7th of October to the 25th of November 2015. 3 non-Kabuki actors will also be part of the casting : Fukushi Seiji, Kashima Noritoshi and Asano Kazuyuki.
Nakamura Kichiroku, actor of the Harimaya guild and disciple of Living National Treasure Nakamura Kichiemon, will celebrate his success at the nadai exam in September 2015 at the Kabukiza. Nakamura Kichiroku, who passed the nadai exam in September 2012, will also take the name of Nakamura Kichibŕ.
"Hade Kurabe Ise Monogatari" will be staged at the Kabukiza in September 2015 to commemorate the 1200th anniversary of the birth of Ki no Aritsune. Moreover, ďtani Keiz˘'s son Inoue Kimiharu will make his first stage appearance (omemie) in "Hade Kurabe Ise Monogatari" at the Kabukiza in September 2015 [more details].
Matsumoto K˘shir˘ will play the lead role in the musical "Man of La Mancha" in September 2015 in ďsaka at the Theater Brava and in October 2015 in T˘ky˘ at the Imperial Theater. He performed in this musical for the first time in April 1969. So far, he has played the leading role 1207 times! He also played it in English in 1970 in Broadway!
Kataoka Ainosuke performed in August 2015 at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘ in Inoue Hisashi's drama "Moto no Mokuami". He will also perform it in September 2015 in ďsaka at the Sh˘chikuza. This drama was premiered with Kataoka Takao in September 1983 at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘. The title "Moto no Mokuami", "back to the old Mokuami" in English, is an expression originating from a 17th century story in which the eponymous hero Mokuami becomes a rich merchant only to discover that it was all a dream. It is not related to the playwright Kawatake Mokuami. The expression could also derive from the fact that when the gold leaf peels off a Buddha statue, the statue becomes just an ordinary piece of wood. Kataoka Ainosuke also performed the 29th of August 2015 at the Kanagawa Arts Theatre in a special dance program, which was entitled J-Dance. He performed in "Echigo Jishi" and "Futatsu Domoe".
Nakamura Ky˘z˘ will perform from the 7th of September to the 3rd of October 2015 at the Shibuya Bunkamura Theatre Cocoon in T˘ky˘ in Ninagawa Yukio's drama "NINAGAWA Makubesu", a famous adaptation of William Shakespeare's drama "Macbeth".
It was officially announced the 17th of July 2015 that Kataoka Nizaemon XV is to receive the prestigious title of Living National Treasure (Ningen Kokuh˘ in Japanese).
The 8th edition in T˘ky˘ of a special program called "Shűzan Matsuri" (the festival of Shűzan) will be staged at the Kabukiza in September 2015. It will commemorate the great actor Nakamura Kichiemon I, whose's haimy˘ was Shűzan. The zagashira will be his adopted son, the Living National Treasure Nakamura Kichiemon II. The two highlights will be the rarely-staged drama "Hade Kurabe Ise Monogatari" and the classic "Meiboku Sendai Hagi" with Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘ and Living National Treasure Nakamura Kichiemon in the roles of Masaoka and Nikki Danj˘. "Hade Kurabe Ise Monogatari" was staged only three times since the end of the WWII: in November 1956 and June 1965 at the Kabukiza and in October 2003 at the National Theatre. There will be also an unusual feature in these September Grand Kabuki performances: the rarely-staged "Shinkiyomizu" act of "Futatsu Ch˘ch˘ Kuruwa Nikki" will be staged as an independent drama for the first time in Kabuki history ! [more details].
Tsuruya Nanboku IV's masterpiece "T˘kaid˘ Yotsuya Kaidan" will be staged in 3 acts (10 scenes) in December 2015 at the National Theatre, starring Matsumoto K˘shir˘ and his son Ichikawa Somegor˘. Most of the acts/scenes are the ones usually staged. There will be one interesting add-on: the rarely-staged "At the Refuge of Oshioda Matanoj˘'s Family" as the second scene of the 3rd act, which was staged for the last time in Spring 2006 at the Cocoon Kabuki [more details].
Ichikawa Danz˘ stopped acting from the 4th of July 2015 at the National Theatre. Due to injury, he was replaced by Onoe Kikuichir˘ to play the role of Musashib˘ Benkei in the the "Tokaiya", "Funayagura" and "Daimotsu no Ura" scenes of "Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura". As a consequence, the special program commemorating the 49th anniversary (50th memorial service) of the passing away of his grandfather Ichikawa Danz˘ VIII, which was scheduled the 22nd and 23rd of August 2015 at the Ry˘zenji Temple in Naruto, will be postponed.
In August 2015 at the Kabukiza, Obata Kinji's drama "Gion Koi Zukushi" will be staged for the second time (for the first time in T˘ky˘). It was a reworking of Takeshiba Kinsaku II's 1928 drama "Gion Matsuri Hito no Yamahoko". "Gion Koi Zukushi" was premiered in September 1997 at the Minamiza and starred Nakamura Kankur˘ V and Nakamura Ganjir˘ III. This time at the Kabukiza, it will star the two sons of these two actors, Nakamura Kankur˘ and Nakamura Senjaku [more details].
The programs at the Heisei Nakamuraza in ďsaka in October 2015 and November 2015 have been published. These performances will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the beginning of the Siege of ďsaka. The output of this bloody war was the complete destruction of both the ďsaka Castle and the line of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Two items in these programs will be related to Toyotomi Hideyoshi: "Shikakubashira Saru no Kusemai" and "M˘moku Monogatari" [more details].
Ichikawa Ennosuke will take part in a special multi-style charity program entitled "Traditional Art Now 2015" ("Dent˘ Gein˘ no Ima in Japanese), which will star several young musicians : Fujiwara D˘zan (shakuhachi), Agatsuma Hiromitsu (tsugaru jamisen), Kamei Hirotada (N˘ tsuzumi), the brother and sister Muraji Kaori and Muraji S˘ichi, both classic guitarists, and the Nagauta music master Tanaka Denjir˘ VII. It will happen the 30th and 31st of August in Yokohama at the N˘gakud˘. They will also perform the 1st of September in Ky˘to at the Shunjűza. The Shunjűza is located within the Ky˘to University of Arts and Design (Ky˘to Z˘kei Geijutsu Daigaku). Ichikawa Ennosuke will perform in two dances, "Aoi-no-Ue" and "Kanawa".
The Kabuki TV program Kabuki Kool, which is produced by NHK World TV and hosts either Ichikawa Somegor˘ or Nakamura Kazutar˘, will broadcast its previous episodes in the coming days/weeks. Here is the schedule:
The 4th edition of the "Suzume Ninin Kai", literally "The Two Sparrows Association", a side project involving Nakamura Shibajaku and the rakugo storyteller Hayashiya Sh˘jaku, who have in common the ideogram jaku (sparrow in English) in their first name, will occur the 2nd of August 2015 in T˘ky˘ at the Zensh˘an Temple. The two performers will do the storytelling of "Shibahama no Kawazaifu" and of an important act of the ghost story "Botan D˘r˘", calling each other in rhythmic dialog (kakeai banashi in Japanese).
What about a dinner with young Kabuki actors? It will happen in T˘kyo at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘ from the 4th to the 24th of August 2015. 7 parties with the same structure: dinner (delicacies provided by Kanetanaka, one of the top traditional restaurant in Shinbashi), suodori and talk [more details in Japanese].
The August 2015 Cool-Breeze Kabuki programs at the Kabukiza have been published! The stars will be Nakamura Kankur˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Nakamura Senjaku, Band˘ Yajűr˘ and Band˘ Shűch˘. "B˘ Shibari" and "Imohori Ch˘ja" will be staged in memory of late Band˘ Mitsugor˘ X. Another highlight will be the performance of Nakamura Hashinosuke in the role of the warrior Higuchi Jir˘ Kanemitsu in the classic "Sakaro" [more details].
Ichikawa Ebiz˘ will perform in Singapore the 17th and the 18th of October 2015. Just like last year, the performances will happen at the Marina Bay Sands Theater. There will be 3 items in this program, which will be entitled "JAPAN THEATER":
"Ise Ondo Koi no Netaba" will be staged in October 2015 in a t˘shi ky˘gen production (3 acts; 8 scenes) at the National Theatre. The rarely-staged "Daidaik˘" act will be revived! It was staged for the last time in July 1962 at the Kabukiza, more than 53 years ago. Nakamura Baigyoku will play the role of Fukuoka Mitsugi. Nakamura Ganjir˘ will play the roles of Sh˘jiki Sh˘dayű and the cook Kisuke. Nakamura Kaishun will play the role of Manno. Nakamura Ganjir˘'s son Nakamura Kazutar˘ will play the role of Okon [more details].
The October 2015 kaomise programs in Nagoya have been published. The zagashira will be Living National Treasure Nakamura Kichiemon. Others major actors will be Nakamura Shibajaku, Nakamura Kinnosuke, Nakamura Matagor˘ and Nakamura Karoku. As the Misonoza closed in Spring 2013, these programs will be staged at the Nihon Tokushu T˘gy˘ Shimin Kaikan for the third time, a venue commonly called NTK Hall in Nagoya [more details].
More details about Las Vegas: there will be Kabuki performances ("Japan KABUKI Festival") in Las Vegas in May 2016. As a teaser to this next year event, the Sh˘chiku Company and MGM Resorts International will produce performances in August 2015: Ichikawa Somegor˘ will play from the 14th to the 16th of August 2015 in the spectacular drama "Koi Tsukami". A koi tsukami is a scene in which a hero fights in real water (honmizu) the spirit of a giant carp. The real water will be used in the famous fountains of the Bellagio. A dedicated website is available [playbill recto | playbill verso].
The 4th edition of the "Invitation to the Classics" tour, which is led by Ichikawa Ebiz˘, will happen from the 4th to the 27th of September 2015 in 14 cities (for example in T˘ky˘ at the Shibuya K˘kaid˘ the 12th and in Machida at the Civic Hall the 13th). 3 dance-dramas will be staged: "Kusazuribiki", "Ikari Tomomori" and "Mimasu Kuruwa no Kasauri". In "Kusazuribiki", Ichikawa Ebiz˘ and Ichikawa Kudanji will play the roles of Soga Gor˘ Tokimune and Maizuru. "Ikari Tomomori" is a dance-drama based on the "Tokaiya"/"Daimotsu no Ura" scenes of "Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura". Ichikawa Ebiz˘ will play the role of the Heike warrior Taira no Tomomori, with Ichikawa Kudanji and Kataoka Ichiz˘ in the roles of Minamoto no Yoshitsune and Musashib˘ Benkei. The last item in this program will be a newly-created dance-drama entitled "Mimasu Kuruwa no Kasauri". It will star Ichikawa Ebiz˘ in the role of an umbrella-seller, in reality the king of thieves Ishikawa Goemon. An opening talk will be done by Ichikawa Ebiz˘ [more details].
"Shinrei Yaguchi no Watashi" will be staged as a t˘shi ky˘gen in November 2015 at the National Theatre. The zagashira will be Living National Treasure Nakamura Kichiemon. The classic "Tonbŕ Sumika" act (also called "Yaguchi no Watashi"), which is still in the Kabuki repertoire, will be staged at the end of this program, along with 3 long-forgotten acts! The second act, "Yura Hy˘gonosuke Shin Yashiki", was staged for the last time in July 1915, more than 100 years ago, in T˘ky˘ at the Kabukiza with Nakamura Kichiemon I in the leading role. The two others revived acts will be "Yakimochi-zaka" as the opening act and "D˘nen Anshitsu" as the third act [more details].
The 1st edition of the Ken no Kai, which stars Onoe Kikugor˘ VI's great-grandson Onoe Ukon, will happen the 22nd and the 23rd of August 20015 in T˘ky˘ at the National Theatre. Ken no Kai literally means "Ken's Association" with Ken being the first ideogram in Onoe Ukon's real first name Kensuke. Ichikawa Ennosuke will be a guest star in "Yoshinoyama" [more details].
The 1st edition of the S˘ch˘kai (literally "the Two Butterflies Association"), which stars Nakamura Kash˘ and his brother Nakamura Tanenosuke, will happen the 24th and the 25th of August 20015 in T˘ky˘ at the National Theatre. Nakamura Shibajaku, Nakamura Matagor˘, Ichikawa Somegor˘ and Onoe Sh˘roku will be the guest stars of this program [more details].
The 2nd edition of the Sh˘ no Kai, a gala program which stars Nakamura Tomijűr˘ V's son Nakamura Takanosuke, will happen in T˘ky˘ at the National N˘ Theatre the 2nd of August 2015. Nakamura Takanosuke will perform in both "Fuji Musume" and "Tamaya". His sister Watanabe Aiko will perform in "Ame no Gor˘". The third item in this program is a maibayashi dedicated to the N˘ master Katayama Yűsetsu, who passed away the 13th of January 2015. Nakamura Takanosuke will play the role of Musashib˘ Benkei in "Ataka", which is in N˘ the root for the Kabuki dance-drama "Kanjinch˘". The jiutai will be led by the N˘ master Katayama Kur˘emon X [more details].
The Summer gala programs in T˘ky˘ (National Theatre) or ďsaka (National Bunraku Theatre) for stars' disciples, kodomo shibai or the Nagauta ensemble of the Onoe Kikugor˘ Gekidan. They are recorded on the August 2015 page. It is worthy to note that there will be the rare revival of the michiyuki of "Futatsu Ch˘ch˘ Kuruwa Nikki" in ďsaka at the National Bunraku Theatre, where this drama will be staged as a t˘shi ky˘gen in 4 acts. This michiyuki choreography will be supervised by the ďsaka furitsuke Yamamura Tomogor˘ III.
Onoe Matsuya started to perform from the 13th of June 2015 in the Japanese version of Michael Kunze's musical "Elisabeth" (a musical about the Empress Elisabeth of Austria). He will be busy with "Elisabeth" up to the 26th of August. During this long period, he will also perform the 8th of August at the Kanagawa Arts Theatre in his yearly gala program, which is entitled IDOMU (Challenge in Japanese). Onoe Matsuya and his guest star Kataoka Takatar˘ plays the roles of Wankyű and his lover Matsuyama in "Ninin Wankyű" [more details|flyer].
The 1st edition of the Kish˘ no Kai (literally "Kish˘'s Association"), which stars Ichikawa Ennosuke's disciple Ichikawa Kish˘, who celebrated his success at the nadai exam in January 2013 in ďsaka at the Sh˘chikuza, will happen the 5th of September 2015 in K˘fu, the capital of Yamanashi prefecture, at the Arts Hall of the K˘fu Civic Center. Ichikawa Ukon will be the guest star of this gala [more details].
The 18th of June 2015, it could have been possible to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the premiere of Tsuruya Nanboku IV's drama "Dote no Oroku". The premiere of this drama happened in Edo at the Kawarazakiza the 11th day of the 5th lunar month of the 12th year of the Bunka era, which was the 18th of June 1815 in the western calendar.
Waterways occupy as much as ten percent of ďsaka's city area, and have played a crucial role in its development as a strategic point in land and water transportation. One of the most picturesque among the city's numerous rivers and canals is the D˘tonbori, which flows today through ďsaka's vibrant entertainment district. From the Edo period in the 17th century, rows of theaters formed along the river, and the area became the center for both Kabuki and Bunraku. It is a custom to do funa norikomi before July Grand Kabuki at the Sh˘chikuza [more details]. 14 actors in the July casting arrived at the theater the 28th of June 2015 in a colorful boat parade, applauded by fans and spectators on the bridges or the banks [pictures and more details in Japanese].
Living National Treasure Sakata T˘jűr˘ played for the 1400th times the role of the courtesan Tenmaya Ohatsu in Chikamatsu Monzaemon's masterpiece "Sonezaki Shinjű", the 25th of June 2015 in Fukuoka at the Hakataza. The role of Hiranoya Tokubŕ was played by Sakata T˘jűr˘'s son Nakamura Ganjir˘.
The 1st edition of the Sora no Kai, which stars Kataoka Matsujűr˘, Kataoka Senjir˘ and Kataoka Senju, 3 disciples of the Matsushimaya guild, will happen from the 31st of July to the 22nd of August 20015 in ďsaka at the Kintetsu Art Kan. Sora no Kai literally means "Sky Association". This gala program will feature 2 Nagauta-based dances, 1 jiuta-based dance and one newly-created Kabuki drama [more details].
The latest release (22nd) in the Shinema Kabuki ("Cinema Kabuki") series, the drama "Sannin Kichisa", which was shot live in high definition in June 2014 at the Cocoon Kabuki (T˘ky˘), was released all over Japan the 27th of June 2015. It will be screened with english subtitles the 5th and the 6th of July 2015 in the following movie theaters : Sapporo Cinema Frontier (Sapporo), Shinjuku Piccadilly (T˘ky˘), Midland Square Cinema (Nagoya), Nanba Parks Cinema (ďsaka) and Fukuoka Nakasű Taiy˘ (Fukuoka).
The July 2015 Grand Kabuki programs at the Kabukiza have been published! The stars will be Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘, Ichikawa Ebiz˘ and Ichikawa Ennosuke. Others main actors will be Nakamura Baigyoku, Nakamura Shibajaku, Nakamura Kaishun, Ichikawa Sadanji, Kataoka Ichiz˘, Ichikawa Chűsha and the main members of the Omodakaya guild! There will be two spectacular acts from "Hakkenden", "Kirare Yosa" with the goruden kombi Tamasabur˘/Ebiz˘, Ichikawa Ennosuke in the hengemono "Kumo no Ito", "Kumagai Jin'ya" with Ichikawa Ebiz˘ in the role of Kumagai and the kaidanmono "Botan D˘r˘" with Tamasabur˘ in the role of the ghost [more details].
The July 2015 Grand Kabuki programs at the Sh˘chikuza have been published! The highlights will be Tsuruya Nanboku IV's masterpiece "Ehon Gapp˘-ga-Tsuji" with Kataoka Nizaemon, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Kataoka Takatar˘, Kataoka Hidetar˘, Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Kinnosuke and Ichikawa Omez˘ [more details]. This spectacular drama was revived in March 2011 at the National Theatre but the performances were stopped after the 2011 Great Eastern Japan Earthquake Disaster. It was succefully staged in the same theater in April 2012 with almost the same stars.
A special program by the 21 Seki Kabuki Gumi, the 21st Century Kabuki Group, which gathers the best actors of the Omodakaya guild, will be staged in August 2015 at the ďsaka Shinkabukiza. They will stage for the 4th times "Shin Suikoden" [more details].
In July 2015, the "Tokaiya", "Funayagura" and "Daimotsu no Ura" scenes of "Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura" will be staged at the National Theatre with Onoe Kikunosuke. We thought when we first reported it that Onoe Kikunosuke was likely to play the role of Suke-no-Tsubone, not Tomomori. Big mistake! Onoe Kikunosuke will indeed play for the very first time the role of Tokaiya Ginpei (in reality the warrior Taira no Tomomori) The role of Suke-no-Tsubone will be played by Nakamura Baishi [more details].
Band˘ Takesabur˘ will not perform in Fukuoka at the Hakataza in June 2015. He was expected to play the role of Yamamura Tomogor˘ in the drama "Geid˘ Ichidai Otoko". He will be replaced by Nakamura T˘z˘.
A newly-created Kabuki drama will be staged in September 2015 in Ky˘to at the Minamiza. The script of this drama will be based on Kimura Yűichi's famous series of illustrated child books "Arashi no Yoru ni" (in English "One Stormy Night"). This is the story of an unusual friendship between a wolf named Gabu and a goat named Mei [more details]. The zagashira of the troop performing at the Minamiza will be Nakamura Shid˘. It is worthy to note that an animated film based on "One Stormy Night" was made by Sugii Gisabur˘, was released in Japan in 2005 ... with Nakamura Shid˘ for the voice of Gabu.
Nakamura Kankur˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Band˘ Yajűr˘ and Kataoka Kamez˘ will perform in September 2015 at the Akasaka Act Theater in a special program which will be entitled Akasaka Grand Kabuki. The highlight will be Nakamura Shichinosuke performing the seven roles of Tsuruya Nanboku IV's masterpiece "Osome no Nanayaku" [more details].
The first flyer and a brand-new Internet website for the coming production of "ONE PIECE" Ó la sauce Kabuki, which will be staged in T˘ky˘ at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘ in October 2015 and November 2015, have been printed out (the flyers) and opened (the website). It will be THE event this autumn!
There was an important funa norikomi on the Hakata River in Fukuoka the 29th of May 2015, before June Grand Kabuki at the Hakataza which will celebrate the shűmei of Nakamura Ganjir˘ IV in Fukuoka [more details]. Actors on colorful boats were applauded by fans and spectators on the bridges or the banks of the Hakata river [more details with pictures].
Obituary: the actor Nakamura Kosanza II died the 6th of April 2015. At the service of both Nakamura Kanzabur˘ XVII and Nakamura Kanzabur˘ XVIII, he spent 90 years on Kabuki stages or in Kabuki backstages.
Ichikawa Somegor˘ will perform in Las Vegas in August 2015! He will play in the spectacular drama "Koi Tsukami". A koi tsukami is a scene in which a hero fights in real water (honmizu) the spirit of a giant carp. The real water will be used in the famous fountains of the Bellagio, where the performances will be done. More details in the weeks/months to come!
Following the huge success of the 1st edition of Roppongi Kabuki in T˘ky˘ in February 2015, the troupe led by Ichikawa Ebiz˘ and Nakamura Shid˘ will perform this Sci-Fi Kabuki drama in August 2015 in Nagoya, at the Chűnichi Theatre from the 2nd to the 10th of August [more details], and in ďsaka, at the Orix Theatre from the 15th to the 23rd of August [more details].
Ichikawa Danz˘ IX will commemorate the 49th anniversary (50th memorial service) of the passing away of his grandfather Ichikawa Danz˘ VIII. He will perform the longevity dance of Musashib˘ Benkei, a famous section from the dance-drama "Kanjinch˘", within the precincts of the Ry˘zenji temple in the city of Naruto in Tokushima Prefecture. These performances, which will be called Ry˘zenji H˘n˘ Kabuki~Saraba Shikoku (Offering Kabuki at the Ry˘zenji Temple~Farewell Shikoku), will happen the 22nd and 23rd of August 2015 [more details about the passing away of Ichikawa Danz˘ VIII].
"Shin Usuyuki Monogatari" will be staged as a t˘shi ky˘gen in June 2015 at the Kabukiza. The rarely-staged "Kajiya" act will be part of the production. Normally, even with the "Kajiya" act, it is possible to stage this drama within one program (either matinÚe or evening). The Sh˘chiku Company has decided to split the drama in two parts, "Hanami" and "Sengi" in the matinÚe, "Sannin Warai" and "Kajiya" in the evening program. If you plan to enjoy "Shin Usuyuki Monogatari" in its entirety, you'll have to purchase two tickets instead of one. Others staged dramas will be Mayama Seika's drama "Tenp˘ Yűky˘ Roku" and Kawajiri Seitan's drama "Yűgao Dana". Both are not frequently staged dramas. The stars of these June performances will be Living National Treasure Onoe Kikugor˘, Living National Treasure Nakamura Kichiemon, Kataoka Nizaemon, Matsumoto K˘shir˘, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Nakamura Shibajaku, Nakamura Kaishun and Ichikawa Sadanji [more details].
"Waki Noboru Mizu-ni Koi Taki" will be staged as a t˘shi ky˘gen in May 2015 at the Meijiza [more details] and in June 2015 at the Sh˘chikuza [more details]. The star of these rare full length revival will be Kataoka Ainosuke, who will play 6 roles using hayagawari techniques in a drama full of keren. The 6 roles are Tawara T˘ta Hidesato, Kinri (the son of the King of Carps), Takimado Shiganosuke, the spirit of a giant carp, the yakko Setahei and Tachibana no Hirotsugu.
A brand new genre was born in the Kabuki world! After Kabuki, Shinkabuki, SűpÔ Kabuki, SűpÔ Kabuki II and Roppongi Kabuki (Sci-Fi Kabuki), here comes on the T˘ky˘ stages Kabuki NEXT. The first Kabuki NEXT drama will be "Aterui" and it will be staged in July 2015 at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘ [more details]. It was staged for the first time in August 2002 at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘, starring only one Kabuki actor, Ichikawa Somegor˘, with a non-Kabuki cast. In 2002, it was not a Kabuki or a Kabuki NEXT production. In 2015, it will be revised to become the first Kabuki NEXT drama in Kabuki history, with a full Kabuki cast led by Ichikawa Somegor˘, Nakamura Kankur˘ and Nakamura Shichinosuke. The story is about the Emishi warrior Aterui (Ichikawa Somegor˘), who is fighting for the independence of the Emishi people against the Japanese army led by the general Sakanoue no Tamuramaro (Nakamura Kankur˘). The third character of "Aterui" is the Emishi beautiful woman Tate Eboshi (Nakamura Shichinosuke). The playbill can give you some indications about the costumes and make-ups in a Kabuki NEXT drama [playbill recto | playbill verso].
Ichikawa Ebiz˘ went to the Yasaka Shrine the 16th of April 2015 to pray for the success of April 2015 performances at the Minamiza, where he will perform along with Ichikawa Kudanji. Ichikawa Ebiz˘ performed on the central stage of the Yasaka Shrine the longevity dance of Musashib˘ Benkei, a famous section from the dance-drama "Kanjinch˘", without the traditional costume and make-up [more details in Japanese with pictures].
The third edition of the ABKAI (Ebikai in Japanese), a gala for the young star Ichikawa Ebiz˘ will happen from the 4th to the 21st of June 2015 at the Shibuya Bunkamura Theatre Cocoon in T˘ky˘. Ichikawa Ebiz˘ will be assisted by Miyamoto Amon (production and stage direction) and Miyazawa Akio (screenplay) Two newly-created drama will be staged. The first one will be about the legend of Urashima Tar˘, a fisherman who, according to the legend rescued a turtle and was rewarded for this with a visit to the palace of the Dragon God under the sea. He stayed there for three days and, upon his return to his village, found himself 300 years in the future. The second drama will be about the legend of Momotar˘, literally the Peach Boy, who came to Earth inside a giant peach and who successfully fought a band of demons on a distant island [more details].
"Ise Ondo Koi no Netaba" will be staged as t˘shi ky˘gen in October 2015 at the National Theatre, starring Nakamura Ganjir˘, Nakamura Baigyoku, Nakamura Kaishun and Nakamura T˘z˘. More details in the weeks/months to come!
The Heisei Nakamuraza will be in ďsaka in October 2015 and November 2015! It will be the 3rd time in ďsaka. It will start the 25th of October and will end the 26th of November 2015. The temporary koshibai look-alike theater will be built in the precincts of the ďsaka Castle, in the heart of the Nishi no Maru Park. These performances will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the beginning of the Siege of ďsaka, which started in Fall/Winter 2014 (the "Winter Siege" (Fuyu no Jin in Japanese) from November 1614 to January 1615) and ended in Summer 2015 (the summer siege (Natsu no Jin in Japanese) in May and June 1615). The output of this bloody war was the complete destruction of both the ďsaka Castle and the line of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The programs have not yet been published but it would make sense to produce Kabuki dramas related to the Siege of ďsaka, like "Kamakura Sandaiki", "Moritsuna Jin'ya" or "Hototogisu Koj˘ no Rakugetsu". More details in the weeks/months to come!
The 10th of April 2015, a ground monument celebrating the Heisei Nakamuraza was erected within the Asakusa park [more details in Japanese and pictures]. A statue of late Nakamura Kanzabur˘ XVIII portraying the thief Nezumi Koz˘ was also inaugurated on top of a roof [picture].
The 21st of April 2015, a special program was staged at the Heisei Nakamuraza. There was only one Kabuki drama, "Mikasayama Goten", with all major roles performed by disciples. There was also a stage speech called Otanoshi zadankai, an enjoyable symposium, with major actors on stage.
Nakamura Kankur˘'s disciple Nakamura Ich˘ and Nakamura Senjaku's disciple Nakamura Sen'ichir˘ celebrated their success at the 2014 nadai exam in April 2015. The former actor celebrated it at the Heisei Nakamuraza. The latter actor celebrated it at the Kabukiza, where he has also received the name of Nakamura Kaname.
A special program at the Minamiza in Ky˘to to explain stage mechanisms, from the tachimawari to the hanamichi: in this program, you can experience some of the unique stagecraft tricks used in Japanese Kabuki theatre. Tours are organized from the 29th of April to the 5th of May 2015 [more details].
Ichikawa Shun'en will perform in Shinpa in June 2015 at the Mitsukoshi Gekij˘. He will play in "Jűsan'ya" and "Zangiku Monogatari", two classics in the Shinpa repertoire. The story of "Zangiku Monogatari" (literally "Late Chrysanthemums") is about the Meiji era Kabuki actor Onoe Kikunosuke II. Kikunosuke was openly praised for his stage performances, only because he was his father's heir. Otoku, the wet-nurse of his brother, was the only one to be sincere enough to tell Kikunosuke the truth about his performances but she also had faith in his talent. Kikunosuke fell in love with her, but the possible mesalliance provoked the wrath of his adoptive father Onoe Kikugor˘ V. Kikunosuke left the Onoe clan to try to become an accomplished actor by himself in ďsaka, where he struggled for a long time. Thanks to the help of Otoku, he finally became a famous actor and regained the recognition of his adoptive father. Ichikawa Shun'en will play the role of Onoe Kikunosuke II. The role of Otoku will be played by the Shinpa star Mizutani Yaeko II.
Nakamura Shibajaku VII will take the name of Nakamura Jakuemon V in March 2016 at the Kabukiza. Next year, there will also be shűmei performances in June, July and December at the Hakataza, Sh˘chikuza and Minamiza. The new Jakuemon will most likely perform important atariyaku of both Nakamura Jakuemon IV and Nakamura Jakuemon III like the Three Princesses (sanhime).
Nakamura Ganjir˘ IV will celebrate his shűmei in June 2015 in Fukuoka at the Hakataza [more details]. He will play the role of the father shishi, Hiranoya Tokubŕ and Hayashi Tamatar˘ (later Jitsukawa Ganjir˘) in the dance-drama "Renjishi", Chikamatsu Monzaemon's masterpiece "Sonezaki Shinjű" and the modern Kabuki drama "Geid˘ Ichidai Otoko". It is interesting to note that Hayashi Tamatar˘ was in the real world ... Nakamura Ganjir˘ I, Nakamura Ganjir˘ IV's great-grandfather. The role of Tamatar˘'s father Arashi Kakuz˘ I (later Nakamura Kanjaku III) will be played by Nakamura Baigyoku. Other interesting item in these programs will be the rarely-staged but spectacular drama "Banshű Sarayashiki".
The great yearly Dankiku festival for the Naritaya and Otowaya guilds will happen in May 2015 at the Kabukiza. The zagashira will be Living National Treasure Onoe Kikugor˘, who will play the roles of ďoka Echizen-no-Kami Tadasuke and the tobigashira Tatsugor˘ in "Ten'ichib˘ ďoka Seidan" and "Megumi no Kenka". The rarely-staged drama "Jayanagi", which belongs to the Kabuki Jűhachiban collection, will also be revived by Ichikawa Ebiz˘. It will most likely be the same "revisited" version as the "Jayanagi" which was staged in August 2013 at the Shibuya Bunkamura Theatre Cocoon in T˘ky˘ [more details].
Onoe Kikunosuke will perform in China in Beijing the 2nd and 3rd of April 2015. He will play the leading role of the dance-drama "Kagami Jishi" as part of a special program featuring Beijing Opera and Kabuki performances. It is good to hear that, amidst diplomatic tensions between China and Japan, there are still many opportunities for both country to peacefully cooperate.
The programs for the June 2015 and July 2015 educational Kabuki programs at the National Theatre, called Kabuki Kansh˘ Ky˘shitu ("Kabuki appreciation class") have been published. In June 2015, "Tsubosaka Reigenki" will be staged with Kataoka Takatar˘ and Band˘ Kamesabur˘ in the roles of Osato and Sawaichi [more details]. In July 2015, the "Tokaiya", "Funayagura" and "Daimotsu no Ura" scenes of "Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura" will be staged with Onoe Kikunosuke, who will most likely play the role of Suke-no-Tsubone, not Tokaiya Ginpei (in reality the warrior Taira no Tomomori). Who will play the role of Tomomori? We will know soon [more details]
Nakamura Karoku has received the 2015 Minister of Education Award for Fine Arts. The ceremony occurred the 18th of March 2015.
Nakamura Shichinosuke was the award-winner of the Theater "New Face" Prize (Engeki Shinjin Sh˘) of the 36th Matsuo Artistic Awards (Matsuo Gein˘ Sh˘). He received his prize the 27th of March 2015 at the ANA Intercontinental Hotel in T˘ky˘. His brother Nakamura Kankur˘ received the same award in March 2012. "New Face" really? Both actors started to perform on stage from the end of the 1980s...
The programs for the Grand Kabuki Tours in the eastern and central provinces in July 2015 have been published!
Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘ worked with Dazzle, a nine-member all-male dance troupe led by 38-year-old Hasegawa Tatsuya. They worked together on "Ballare" (this word means dance in Italian), which was staged from the the 7th to the 15th of March 2015 in T˘ky˘ at the Akasaka ACT Theater [more details].
Nakamura Takanosuke and Nakamura Tamatar˘ performed from the 20th to the 22nd of March 2015 in a newly-created Buy˘ dance-drama entitled "Katsuragiyama Chichű no Yobanashi", which was staged at the Kanagawa Arts Theatre. The story of this dance-drama is related to the legend of Minamoto Raik˘ and the giant ground spider. Others important performers of this dance-drama were the dance masters Fujima Kanjűr˘ VIII and Onoe Kikunoj˘ III.
Living National Treasure Band˘ Tamasabur˘ went to the Ise Shrine the 25th of March 2015 to pray for the success of the coming performances at the Sh˘chikuza in May 2015, where he will perform along with the Kod˘ taiko drummers in "Amaterasu" [pictures and more details in Japanese about the pilgrimage|more details about the performances].
Obituary: the Kabuki star Band˘ Mitsugor˘ X, holder of an important name in Edo Kabuki history, keeper of 250 years of stage traditions and head of the Band˘ School of Dance, passed away at a T˘ky˘ hospital the 21st of February 2015. This passing away is a huge human loss for the Kabuki world, which lost another of its leaders. Band˘ Mitsugor˘ X's funeral service was held the 25th of February 2015 at T˘ky˘'s Aoyama Cemetery [more details in Japanese]. His son Band˘ Minosuke was the chief mourner.
Nakamura Ganjir˘ IV will celebrate in April 2015 his shűmei in T˘kyo at the Kabukiza [more details]. He will play the roles of Fujiya Izaemon and Kamiya Jihei in "Yoshidaya" and "Kawash˘" and he will share the stage with 3 Living National Treasure: Sakata T˘jűr˘, Onoe Kikugor˘ and Nakamura Kichiemon. Others stage giants will be Kataoka Nizaemon and Matsumoto K˘shir˘. Nakamura Ganjir˘ paraded, along with his father Sakata T˘jűr˘ and his brother Nakamura Senjaku, in Asakusa on the 27th of February 2015 ahead of the coming April 2015 shűmei performances [more details in Japanese].
Ichikawa Kudanji IV will celebrate in April 2015 his shűmei in Ky˘to at the Minamiza with the patronage of the young star Ichikawa Ebiz˘. He will play the roles of Sat˘ Tadanobu (in reality the fox Genkur˘) and Tar˘kaja in "Yoshinoyama" and "Migawari Zazen".
The number of visitors at the 5th Kabukiza reached the symbolic 2,222,222 threshold the 12th of February 2015.
The star Kataoka Nizaemon went to the Dazaifu Tenmangű the 11th of February 2015 to pray for the success of the coming performances of "Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami" in March 2015 at the Kabukiza. Kataoka Nizaemon will play the role of Kan Sh˘j˘, whose real name was Sugawara no Michizane, and the grave of Sugawara no Michizane is located in the precincts of the Dazaifu Tenmangű Shrine.
4 movies belonging to the Shinema Kabuki ("Cinema Kabuki") series collection will be screen at the Toronto International Film Festival the 28th of February and the 1st of March 2015. With english subtitles. The movies will be "Migawari Zazen" (28/02), "Togitatsu no Utare" (28/02), "Kagami Jishi" (01/03) and "Kagotsurube". For "Kagami Jishi", there will be indeed two "Kagami Jishi", the one shot by Ozu Yasujir˘ in 1936 and starring Onoe Kikugor˘ VI. The other "Kagami Jishi" was shot in 2009 with Nakamura Kanzabur˘ XVIII in the leading role [more details].
A few images in youtube from the newly-created "Kabuki meets Sci-Fi" drama "Chikyű Nagegor˘ Uchű no Aragoto", which was staged in Roppongi in February 2015 [more details]. Yes, if you listen closely, you will hear the shamisen version of the Star Wars Imperial March!
Let's talk about merchandising: a Kabuki T-shirt produced by Ichikawa Ennosuke as part of a collaboration project between the Sh˘chiku Company and Uniqlo will be sold in France on the 20th of March 2015, then in Japan on the 26th of March 2015 [more details].
Not a piece of news but a little reminder: this month, we could have celebrated the 300th anniversary of the first Kabuki adaptation of Chikamatsu Monzaemon's drama "Daiky˘ji Mukashi Goyomi", which was simply entitled "Daiky˘ji" when it was staged in ďsaka around the 1st lunar of 1715 [more details].
A very bad piece of news to end this month news: the famous and high-quality earphone guide service in English at the Kabukiza will end in April 2015. From May 2015, foreigners will be able to use an English subtitle service based on an electronic device to be rented and fixed on the seat in front of you. The Japanese subtitle service was started in 2013. Now tell me how can the Kabuki experience really happen if your eyes are not focused on the stage but on a cheap flat screen! They should keep the great earphone guide service and use the subtitles things for different languages. The Earphone guide service in English will continue at the National Theatre.
An exhibition commemorating about "Ganjiro-han" which is "Ganjir˘-san" (the 4th Nakamura Ganjir˘) in ďsaka dialect will be held at the Kabukiza Gallery from the 3rd of March 2015 to the 26th of April 2016. This gallery is located on the 5F of the Kabukiza tower.
There will be a mamemaki ceremony and a street parade for setsubun in Fukuoka the 3rd of February 2015 with the main actors who will perform from the 4th to the 26th of February at the Hakataza. The mamemaki ceremony will happen in the precincts of the Kushida Shrine. The event will start the 3rd of February at 11:30 in the shrine and will end around 12:25 in front of the theater.
Living National Treasure Sakata T˘jűr˘ and his son Nakamura Ganjir˘ went the 19th of January to the Tsuyu Tenjinsha shrine, which is commonly called Ohatsu Tenjin, to pray for the success of the performances of "Sonezaki Shinjű" in February 2015 at the Sh˘chikuza and to get some protection from the Deity enshrined there [pictures and more details in Japanese].
Nakamura Hashinosuke will perform for the first time in his career the prestigious role of Kamiyui Shinza (Shinza the hairdresser) in the drama "Tsuyu Kosode Mukashi Hachij˘" which will be staged in March 2015 at the National Theatre. Nakamura Hashinosuke has already performed several roles in this drama, like the boss Yatagor˘ Genshichi, the landowner Ch˘bŕ or the tedai Chűshichi. The tradition is that you can't perform the role of Shinza unless you've already play the role of Shinza's henchman Katsu ... and the tradition will be fully respected as Nakamura Hashinosuke played the role of Katsu in April 1983 at the Kabukiza (Shinza was played by Onoe Tatsunosuke I) [more details].
Band˘ Takesabur˘'s disciple Band˘ Takeaki will celebrate his success at the nadai exam in February 2015 in ďsaka at the Sh˘chikuza. Band˘ Takeaki, who passed the nadai exam in September 2014, will take the name of Band˘ Takenosuke III.
The 31st edition of the Spring Kabuki performances (Shikoku Kompira Kabuki ďshibai) at the Kanamaruza on Shikoku island will happen between the 11th and the 26th of April 2015. The stars of these performances will be Nakamura Tokiz˘, Onoe Kikunosuke and Onoe Sh˘roku. There will be a t˘shi ky˘gen production of "Ise Ondo", "Yoshinoyama" with Onoe Sh˘roku (the fox Genkur˘) and Nakamura Baishi (Shizuka Gozen), "Kuzu-no-Ha" with Nakamura Tokiz˘ in the eponymous role (one of his atariyaku) and "Gosho no Goroz˘" with Onoe Kikunosuke in the role of Goroz˘ [more details].
The Japan Times published at the end of January an interesting article about the newly-created "Kabuki meets Sci-Fi" drama "Chikyű Nagegor˘ Uchű no Aragoto", which will be staged in Roppongi in February 2015 [more details].
6 of the 7 young actors who were in January 2015 at the Asakusa K˘kaid˘ will perform others major roles in important plays in March 2015 in Ky˘to at the Minamiza. 2015 is indeed a promising year for Onoe Matsuya, Nakamura Kash˘, Nakamura Hayato, Band˘ Minosuke, Nakamura Yonekichi and Nakamura Tanenosuke [more details].
Two short video summaries of the drama "Ishikawa Goemon" were published on the Facebook channel of the Sh˘chiku Company:
A new genre will be born in March 2015. A mix of Kigeki and SűpÔ Kabuki which will be called SűpÔ Kigeki (Super Kigeki) ! The first SűpÔ Kigeki in Kigeki/Kabuki history will be entitled "Kaguya Hime" and it will be staged in March 2015 in T˘ky˘ at the Shinbashi Enbuj˘ and in April 2015 in ďsaka at the Sh˘chikuza. The Kabuki actors Ichikawa Emiya, Ichikawa En'ya, Ichikawa Shun'en, Ichikawa Juen and Ichikawa K˘tar˘, along with the Shinpa star Mizutani Yaeko II, are in the casting. The troupe will be led by the Kigeki star Fujiyama Naomi. The story will be loosely based on the legend of Princess Kaguya. Ichikawa En'˘ is executive supervisor on this project.
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