SABU UCHI
   
Play title Natsu Matsuri Naniwa Kagami  In Japanese
Summer Festival: Mirror of ďsaka
Authors Namiki Senryű I
Miyoshi Sh˘raku
Takeda Koizumo I (Takeda Izumo II)
History

The play "Natsu Matsuri Naniwa Kagami" was originally written for the puppet theater (Bunraku) and staged for the first time in the 7th lunar month of 1745 in ďsaka at the Takemotoza. It was so successful that it was almost immediately adapted for Kabuki and staged for the first time in the 8th lunar month of 1745 in Ky˘to at Miyako Mandayű's theater. It was produced by the zamoto Nakamura Kiyosabur˘ I and starred Fujioka Daikichi and Sakakiyama Danshir˘ I in the roles of Danshichi Kurobŕ and Tsuribune Sabu. It was a long run and the performance was extended up to October. According to the chronicles, the play was simultaneously staged in another Ky˘to theater in the 8th lunar month of 1745, at the Minamigawa no Shibai, produced by Nakamura Kumetar˘ I. A few months later, this ďsaka play was finally staged in ďsaka. The three main Kabuki venues decided to produce it almost simultaneously, starting a fierce competition for the best performance and line-up. It was first staged at the ďnishi no Shibai from the 5th of the 12th lunar month of 1745, produced by Arashi San'emon IV and starring Nakayama Shinkur˘ I in the role of Danshichi [casting]. Then it was staged at the Naka no Shibai from the 10th of the 12th lunar month of 1745, produced by Ichiyama Sukegor˘ I and starring Arashi Shichigor˘ I in the role of Danshichi [casting]. It was finally staged at the Kado no Shibai from the 15th of the 12th lunar month of 1745, produced by Arashi Sanjűr˘ II and starring him in the role of Danshichi [casting]. "Natsu Matsuri Naniwa Kagami" was staged for the first time in Edo in the 5th lunar month of 1747, at the Moritaza (casting unknown).

Structure

"Tsuribune Sabu Uchi" (lit., at Tsuribune Sabu's home), commonly called "Sabu Uchi", is the 6th act of the 9-act drama "Natsu Matsuri Naniwa Kagami". It is usually staged along with "Torii Mae" and "Nagamachi Ura".

Key words Sewamono
Danshichimono
Danshichi
Matsuri
Summary

While Isonoj˘ was working as a clerk at a shop in Naniwa, he commited a terrible mistake, one that resulted in a man's death. So now, he is hiding from the law at Sabu's house. One day, just before the beginning of a summer festival, Isonoj˘ and Kotoura have a lover's quarrel. Gon and Hachi happen to hear it while eavesdropping and then run off somewhere.

Otsugi, Sabu's wife, appears and smooths out the quarrel. When Sabu comes home he suggests that Otsugi have them stay at the innermost room since Isonoj˘ is now a criminal. Otatsu comes to the house and thanks Sabu for his kindness to Tokubŕ. She is planning to return to her hometown alone and wait there for her husband. Upon hearing this, Otsugi asks Otatsu if she can take the fugitive Isonoj˘ with her. Sabu opposes his wife's request, however, protesting that he will lose face if Isonoj˘ receives shelter from another person. Otastu thinks his excuse is not enough to oppose an otherwise excellent idea. Therefore Sabu has to explain the true reason for his opposition, which is that Otatsu is so beautiful that it would tempt young Isonoj˘ beyond endurance. There upon Otatsu suddenly takes a red-hot iron out of the brazier, presses it to her cheek, and exclaims, "Now that my face looks like this you have no need to worry." Moved by Otatsu's bold action, Sabu apologizes to her for his evil thoughts and agrees to allow Isonoj˘ to go with her.

Then Gon and Hachi come to the house. They behave violently, demanding Sabu turn over Kotoura. At last, Sabu, who has vowed to God not to fight, can no longer endure it. Breaking his vow and a long-standing taboo, he challenges them to step outside and fight. During the fight, Otatsu leaves for her hometown with Isonoj˘. Then right after they leave, Giheiji appears saying to Otsugi that his son-in-law asked him to take Kotoura to a safer place. Believing Giheiji's story, Otsugi turns Kotoura over to him. Kotoura departs in a palanquin. After settling things with Gon and Hachi, Sabu comes back inside, followed by Danshichi and Tokubŕ. Otsugi offers them sake, congratulating Sabu on his victory over the two trouble-makers. Then, Sabu goes to the inner room with Tokubŕ. Left alone, Danshichi asks Otsugi if Kotoura and Isonoj˘ are safe. Otsugi tells him that Giheiji took Kotoura off somewhere. Hearing this, Danshichi realizes Giheiji's scheme and rushes out after them.

This summary has been written by Watanabe Hisao, edited by Jeff Blair and Sh˘riya Aragor˘ [website]

The "Sabu Uchi" scene as it was staged in the 7th lunar month of 1767 at the Kado no Shibai

Top/left: the auto mutilation of Otatsu, starring Arashi Hinasuke I (Otatsu) and Ichinokawa Hikoshir˘ II (Sabu)

bottom/right: the fight between Sabu and the two palanquin-bearers (Gon and Hachi), starring Ichinokawa Hikoshir˘ II (Sabu), Kasaya Mataz˘ (Hachi/left) and Yamashita Shingor˘ (Gon/right)

 
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