TJR NO KOI
   
Play title Tjr no Koi  In Japanese
Authors Kikuchi Kan (novel)
mori Chisetsu (script)
History

The drama "Tjr no Koi", based on Kikuchi Kan's eponymous novel (serialized in the saka Mainichi newspaper), was premiered in October 1919 in saka at the Naniwaza [more details].

Structure

"Tjr no Koi" is made up of two acts (3 scenes).

Key words Chikamatsu Monzaemon
Gakuya
Ganjir Jnikyoku
Hanare-zashiki
Haritsuke
Kants
Kantsmono
Kirinami Senju
Matsuri
Nadai
Nureba
Nuregoto
Onnagata
Sakata Tjr
Shibai Jaya
Shinkabuki
Tatami
Wakashugata
Zagashira
Summary

Act I, scene 1: Chaya Munesei no Hiroma
In the Guest Room at the Munesei Teahouse

Members of the troupe of Kabuki actors performing at the nadai Miyako Manday's theater have gathered in the guest room at the shibai jaya Munesei. This is a preliminary get-together before the opening of their next month's stage program. Seated prominently in the place of honor is the troupe's zagashira, the star Sakata Tjr, expert in nuregoto, while beside him is the onnagata Kirinami Senju, who will play the female roles opposite Tjr. Other main actors are lined up nearby, while the young wakashugata take their places, ready to serve their elders. Others are performing a simple dance.

Everyone is in a gay mood, for the new Chikamatsu Monzaemon's play scheduled for the next month is already the talk of the town, being a dramatization of one of the juicy topics of the day, the adulterous love of Moh for Osan a married woman. There is every evidence that this kantsmono will win great popularity for the troupe, and win back many fans from the rival troupes.

Only Tjr is in a silent brooding mood, and the joyousness and confidence of the others seem to grate on his nerves. He is expected to play the role of Moh, but he is worried, for he feels that he cannot portray the role properly. The other actors talk about the role of Moh and about the delights of illicit love (kants), this only adding to Tjr's bad humor. In those days, adultery was punishable by death by crucifixion (haritsuke), so that the love or lust must be strong enough to lead to an act of illicit love. Tjr has no idea how a man might go about making such love. Finally, leaving the merry company, he sneaks off alone to another room.

Act I, scene 2: Chaya Munesei no Hanarezashiki
In a Secluded Inner Room at the Munesei Teahouse

Tjr, after leaving the party, wanders through the garden to a secluded inner room (hanare-zashiki). After ascertaining that no one else is around, he takes out a paper on which is written his part as Moh in the new play. Reading aloud from the paper, he tries out various motions, in an attempt to create a convincing love scene (nureba), but he finally gives up with a sigh, and lies down, sad and melancholic, on the tatami of the room.

Then suddenly quick footsteps are heard, and Okaji, the wife of the Munesei's owner, opens the sliding doors to the room. Not having expected anyone to be there, she is somewhat startled. Tjr recognizes her and sits up, while Okaji brings out quilts for him so that he can continue his nap without catching a cold. Suddenly Tjr's face changes. He confesses to her that he has loved her these past twenty years, from the time when he was twenty and Okaji was sixteen, more precisely when they have danced together during a festival (matsuri).

Okaji is thoroughly distracted but Tjr goes through his act with a cruelly convincing manner. His voice is full of passion, while his eyes remain cold and attentive, watching every details of Okaji's reactions. Okaji, thoroughly convinced by his confession of love, weeps and blows away the flame in the lamp. In the dark, she waits for Tjr to embrace her. Tjr shows signs of agitation. Then, he slips out of the room while Okaji tries to run after him. Tjr closes the sliding doors behind him, and then runs off in a state of agitation.

Act II, scene 1: Miyako Mandayza Gakuya
Backstage at Miyako Manday's Theater

It is about seven days later, and the much talked-about play has already opened at the theater of Miyako Manday. It is a tremendous hit, and the theater has a full house daily. In the meantime, strange rumors are beginning to float around, that Tjr has actually enacted a seduction of a married woman in real life, in order to be able to perfect the role of Moh. The actor friends of Tjr are discussing the rumor in the backstage (gakuya) of the theater, trying to determine whether the talk has any foundation or not.

The onnagata actor Kirinami Senju half suspects the truth, for he remembers how Tjr, after leaving the party at the teahouse, has come back later to the room in a stage of frenzied agitation and gulped down several cups of sake. He draws his conclusions, and thinks that perhaps something of the sort happened between Tjr and Munesei no Okaji. Okaji does not look like a potential adulterous woman, so the group discount the possibility. Meanwhile, Munesei no Okaji, who has come on an errand backstage, has heard part of the conversation. Sendai Yagoshichi, one of the actors, asks her whether perhaps Tjr has not asked her to help him try out his role of Moh. Okaji answers that she knows nothing, adding that it would probably be any woman's dream to hear words of love from such a handsome man as Sakata Tjr. Laughing, she starts to leave. Just at this moment, Tjr comes out of his dressing room and the two meet face on. There is a brief moment of awkwardness before Okaji continues on her way out.

Afterwards, several of the actors question Tjr about the scandalous rumor, but Tjr replies that the stories are unfounded. The time for the curtain opening nears. Tjr approaches Senju who is performing the role of Osan, and asks him to show more agitation during the nureba scene, for women in actual life do so under such circumstances.

A sudden commotion arises, and someone is heard shouting that a woman has committed suicide backstage. A suicide by self-poisoning. The others wonder who it could possibly be, because there are is woman backstage except for a few backstage-visiting women. Tjr suspects who it is, and turns pale. The body is brought in. It is Okaji's dead body. Senju, who is the closest in relationship to Tjr, looks with apprehension at Tjr, for he is quite sure that Okaji has died because of Tjr's deeds. Tjr looks away, so that he need not meet Senju's eye. The others start to hush up the affair, because the talk of a suicide backstage might have an adverse effect on the troupe's popularity. Tjr, confident in his own ability to hold the fans with his skills, says that nothing, not even the death of a woman, can stand in the way of his artistry. Then, taking Senju by the hand, he starts on his way toward the stage entrance.

The actors Nakamura Ganjir I and Nakamura Fukusuke IV playing the roles of Sakata Tjr and Munesei no Okaji in the drama "Tjr no Koi", which was staged in March and April 1921 at the Shintomiza

Prints & Illustrations

 
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