JULY 2009

4 shows in T˘ky˘ (Kabukiza, National Theatre, Theatre Cocoon), 1 in ďsaka (Sh˘chikuza, Rihga Royal Hotel), and 3 tours (Eastern Provinces, Central Provinces, Zenshinza)!

  • The goruden konbi Band˘ Tamasabur˘/Ichikawa Ebiz˘ and young actors perform at the Kabukiza!
  • Nakamura Kanzabur˘, Nakamura Hashinosuke and Nakamura Senjaku perform at the Theatre Cocoon!
  • Onoe Kikugor˘, Onoe Kikunosuke, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Nakamura Kanjaku, Ichikawa Danshir˘, Ichikawa Kamejir˘ and Ichikawa Danz˘ perform at the Sh˘chikuza!
  • Nakamura Kichiemon, Nakamura Shibajaku and Ichikawa Somegor˘ are on tour in the Central Provinces!
  • Kataoka Nizaemon, Kataoka Hidetar˘, Kataoka Takatar˘ and Kataoka Ainosuke are on tour in the Eastern Provinces!
  • Ichikawa Omez˘ and Nakamura Baishi are at the National Theatre!
  • Kabukiza (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 3 ~ 27 July 2009 (Shichigatsu ďkabuki)
    Kabukiza Sayonara K˘en

    Gojű no T˘

    Kaijin Bess˘


    Natsu Matsuri Naniwa Kagami

  • Sumiyoshi Torii Mae
  • Tsuribune Sabu Uchi
  • Nagamachi Ura
  • Tenshu Monogatari


    Band˘ Tamasabur˘, Ichikawa Ebiz˘, Kataoka Gat˘, Nakamura Shid˘, Kataoka Ichiz˘, Ichikawa Unosuke, Ichikawa Monnosuke, Ichikawa Emisabur˘, Ichikawa Emiya, Ichikawa Shun'en, Ichikawa En'ya, Kamimura Kichiya, Nakamura Kantar˘, Band˘ Minosuke


    7th of the 16 Kabukiza Sayonara K˘en, the Kabukiza Farewell Performances, which will be held up to April 2010. July features young stars in a program under the leadership of onnagata superstar Band˘ Tamasabur˘. The two programs feature classics by two great writers of early 20th century Japan, Izumi Ky˘ka and K˘da Rohan and a favorite classic from the Edo period.

  • Gojű no T˘: a dramatization of the classic story by K˘da Rohan. This play shows the rivalry between the slow Jűbŕ (Nakamura Kantar˘) and sophisticated Genta (Nakamura Shid˘) to build a magnificent pagoda for a temple. Although it seems natural for Genta to be awarded the contract, it becomes an obsession for Jűbŕ and finally their rivalry becomes the reason for the successful completion of the pagoda.
  • Kaijin Bess˘: a handsome prince (Ichikawa Ebiz˘) rules in a palace under the sea. He marries a beauty (Band˘ Tamasabur˘), the daughter of a wealthy family living on the seashore. She learns the relative values of riches on sea and on land when she learns that her family sacrificed her life out of greed for the wealth of the sea.
  • Natsu Matsuri: this grisly murder story became a smashing hit when it was first performed in 1745 because of the chivalrous spirit of the many ďsaka characters appearing in this story, the contrast between a brutal murder and the jovial mood of a summer festival, and the splashing of real water used on the stage. Danshichi, a gallant fishmonger, does everything he can to protect the weak young son of his patron with the help of his companion Tokubŕ and the older Sabu. Although even Tokubŕ's wife Otatsu heroically helps out, in the end, Danshichi is betrayed by his evil father-in-law Giheiji and, in the most famous scene of the play, must kill him in a mud-covered fight in a lonely alley with the shouts of the local festival nearby. This program stars Ichikawa Ebiz˘ as Danshichi, with Nakamura Shid˘ and Nakamura Kantar˘ as Tokubŕ and Otatsu.
  • Tenshu Monogatari: Izumi Ky˘ka's "Tenshu Monogatari" creates the romantic and fantastic atmosphere for which the playwright is famous. Princess Tomi (Band˘ Tamasabur˘), a mysterious immortal spirit in Himeji Castle, lives in an elegant feminine world of her own at the top of the castle tower. But an encounter with the handsome young warrior Zushonosuke (Ichikawa Ebiz˘) brings her into the world of human beings and she is moved to sacrifice all to help him.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Shibuya Bunkamura Theatre Cocoon (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 9 ~ 30 July 2009

    Sakura Hime


    Nakamura Kanzabur˘, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Nakamura Senjaku, Band˘ Yajűr˘, Sasano Takashi, Nakamura Shichinosuke


    Tsuruya Nanboku IV (1755~1829) is most famous for his chilling ghost play "Yotsuya Kaidan". But many believe that "Sakurahime Azuma Bunsh˘" is an even finer play in its examination of human psychology and portrait of the dark side of life in the Edo period. The play takes the very old story of a priest falling in love with a princess, adds ghosts and slices of the grittiest faces of the bottom of Edo period society for a sensational play. Princess Sakura begins as the pampered daughter of a powerful warrior clan and ends up as a cheap prostitute hounded by the ghost of a priest in love with her. Although the play was rarely performed in the Edo period, after being revived as a full-length play at the National Theatre, it has become a star vehicle for top onnagata female role specialists like Nakamura Jakuemon and Band˘ Tamasabur˘, and has been performed abroad to great acclaim. A priest named Seigen goes to commit love suicide with a young temple page named Shiragiku. They are to plunge into the sea together, but at the last moment, Seigen loses his nerve and the boy dies alone. Seventeen years later, Seigen is a high-ranking priest who has been called to cure Princess Sakura, the seventeen-year old daughter of the Yoshida clan. He cures her, and learns that she is the reincarnation of Shiragiku. Princess Sakura wishes to become a nun, in fact because she has fallen in love with a thief named Gonsuke, who raped her one night. On the verge of becoming a nun, Princess Sakura encounters Gonsuke and quickly desire brings them together. Princess Sakura is denounced and becomes an outcast for her sexual crime and, although innocent, Seigen takes the blame, feeling guilty for having abandoned her in her previous incarnation as Shiragiku. The story of Princess Sakura continues as Seigen pursues her, defrocked and madly in love with Princess Sakura. Eventually he is killed, but becomes a ghost that goes with her as she sinks lower and lower, eventually becoming a low-class prostitute that speaks with an odd blend of gutter talk and the elegant words of a princess. The play follows Princess Sakura, Seigen and Gonsuke as they circle deeper and deeper into the dark, reaches of society. But far from being a dark play, it is colorful and spectacular and full of unexpected moments of comedy. Featuring Nakamura Kanzabur˘, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Nakamura Senjaku, Band˘ Yajűr˘, Sasano Takashi and Nakamura Shichinosuke.

    Source: Earphone Guide website

    Sh˘chikuza (ďsaka)
    Dates 5 ~ 27 July 2009 (Shichigatsu ďkabuki)

    Ninagawa Jűniya


    Onoe Kikugor˘, Onoe Kikunosuke, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Nakamura Kanjaku, Ichikawa Danshir˘, Ichikawa Kamejir˘, Ichikawa Danz˘, Nakamura Kinnosuke, Ichikawa Sadanji, Kawarasaki Gonjűr˘, Band˘ Shűch˘, Band˘ Kamesabur˘, Onoe Matsuya


    "If music be the food of love, play on!". The trouble caused by love is the theme of Shakespeareĺs play, a comedy with great depth. June at Shinbashi Enbuj˘ features an encore performance of a bold experiment. Ninagawa Yukio, known throughout the world for productions of Shakespeare and his blending of traditional and modern theatrical techniques will direct Kabuki actors in an adaptation of Shakespeareĺs "Twelfth Night".

    After being shipwrecked and being separated (presumably forever) from her twin brother Shiba Shuzennosuke (Sebastian), Princess Biwa (Viola) dresses as a young man, calls herself Shishimaru (Cesario) and takes service with ďshino Sadaijin (Orsino), who is in love with the fabulously wealthy Princess Oribue (Olivia). In the guise of Shishimaru, Princess Biwa becomes ďshino Sadaijin messenger to Princess Oribue, but she does not love him. Instead, she falls in love with Shishimaru and in turn, Princess Biwa falls in love with ďshino Sadaijin. But while these characters suffer for love, others lust after Princess Oribueĺs wealth. Her uncle T˘in Kanemichi (Sir Toby Belch) cannot stand to see the money leave the family and tries to get her married to the obnoxious And˘ Enchiku (Sir Andrew Aguecheek). Meanwhile, Princess Oribueĺs steward Maruo B˘dayű (Malvolio) is also in love with her, but he is so stuck-up and out of date that the people around him plot to make him think that Princess Oribue returns his love, only making him seem more ridiculous than ever.

    Ninagawa Yukio is famous throughout the world for his direction of new plays and the classics, using modern theatrical techniques and traditional aesthetics with a bold visual touch. For example, his production of "Macbeth" brought the play into the world of Japan and transformed the stage into a giant Buddhist altar, with mysterious old women praying throughout the play, as though the story of Macbeth took place within the altar as a message from the land of the dead. His production of "King Lear" brought together a famous English actor as Lear and a popular Japanese actor as the fool and was performed in England, while his production of "Oedipus Rex" combined an actress from the Japanese modern theater with an actor from Ky˘gen, the traditional comic style, and the production even went to Greece.

    This new production of "Ninagawa Jűniya", which was in fact premiered for the very first time in July 2005 at the Kabukiza, was staged in March 2009 in London at the Barbican Theater. The casting is the same as the March premiere, starring Onoe Kikunosuke as Princess Biwa and her twin brother Shuzennosuke, while Onoe Kikugor˘ plays Maruo B˘dayű and the jester Sutesuke. Also featuring Nakamura Tokiz˘ (Princess Oribue), Nakamura Kinnosuke (ďshino Sadaijin), Ichikawa Sadanji (T˘in Kanemichi), Ichikawa Danshir˘ (Isoemon) and Nakamura Kanjaku (And˘ Enchiku)!

    Source: Earphone Guide website

    National Theatre (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 3 ~ 24 July 2009 (Shichigatsu Kabuki Kansh˘ Ky˘shitsu)

    Kabuki no Mikata


    Fuji Musume


    Ichikawa Omez˘, Nakamura Baishi


    Educational program at the National Theatre called Kabuki Kansh˘ Ky˘shitu ("Kabuki Appreciation Class"). This is a very interesting formula for the beginners because there is lively presentation of Kabuki (or some aspects of the art like music, stage tricks or fighting scenes) on stage, followed by the spectacular "Ya-no-Ne" and the dance "Fuji Musume":

  • Ya-no-Ne: like a picture come to life, this play combines the most exaggerated costumes and movements with leisurely humor. The aragoto hero Soga no Gor˘ is sharpening a giant arrow and sleeping in wishes of good fortune for the New Year when he sees his brother Jűr˘ in a dream asking him to come and rescue him. The two Soga brothers are part of one of the most popular vendetta stories in Kabuki, suffering for eighteen years before being able to avenge the death of their father. In this play, when Gor˘ finds out that his brother is in trouble, he jumps on the horse of a passing daikon vendor and, brandishing a giant daikon as a whip prepares to rush to his brother's side. Starring Ichikawa Omez˘ as Gor˘.
  • Fuji Musume: the spirit of wisteria blossoms dances of love in the form of a beautiful young maiden. One of Kabuki's most famous and colorful dances, it will feature the dancing skills of Nakamura Baishi.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Kabuki Tour in the Central Provinces
    Dates 30 June ~ 31 July 2009

    Igagoe D˘chű Sugoroku (Numazu)

    Yakko D˘j˘ji


    Nakamura Kichiemon, Nakamura Shibajaku, Ichikawa Somegor˘, Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Kash˘


  • Numazu: a dramatization of one of the most famous historical vendattas of the Edo period. "Numazu" is one act that tells of the sacrifices of those not directly involved in the vendetta itself but members of the same family who are indebted to the two opposing sides. The kimono merchant Jűbŕ (Nakamura Kichiemon) meets a porter Heisaku (Nakamura Karoku) as he travels west on business. They find that not only are they long-separated father and son, but that they also lie on opposite sides of the vendetta. Their loyalties prevent them from openly acknowledging their relationship. Heisaku sacrifices his life to get information from his son essential to his side's cause. Featuring Nakamura Shibajaku in the role of Heisaku's daughter Oyone.
  • Yakko D˘j˘ji: "Musume D˘j˘ji" is based on a legend about a woman transformed into a serpent out of jealousy and who destroys a temple bell keeping her from the object of her love. The original dance shows the spirit of the woman who appears at D˘j˘ji temple as a dancer who wants to celebrate the dedication of a new bell and does a series of dances showing the many faces of femininity. In this version the dancer (Ichikawa Somegor˘) is revealed to be a man in disguise and, in the highlight of the dance, transforms the romantic highpoint of the original piece into a comic scene by using masks.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Kabuki Tour in the Eastern Provinces
    Dates 30 June ~ 31 July 2009

    Sh˘fudatsuki Kongen Kusazuri

    Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura

  • Ko-no-Mi
  • Kokingo Uchijini
  • Sushiya
  • Casting

    Kataoka Nizaemon, Kataoka Hidetar˘, Kataoka Takatar˘, Kataoka Ainosuke, Band˘ Takesabur˘, Band˘ Shinsha, Ichimura Kakitsu, Ichikawa Komaz˘


  • Kusazuri:
    (the Tug-of-War Over the Armor)
    A short dance in the oldest style of Kabuki, leisurely and full of humor, combining the charm of an onnagata female role specialist with the larger-than-life heroism of the bombastic aragoto style of acting. The strong woman Maizuru stops the powerful, but rash, warrior Soga no Gor˘ from rushing to a fight by pulling on the set of armor he is carrying. Starring Kataoka Takatar˘ and Kataoka Ainosuke as Maizuru and Gor˘.
  • Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura: this is section of an epic originally written for the Bunraku puppet theatre. The full-length play shows the fate of various Heike generals in hiding after the victory of their enemy, the Genji.
  • Konomi/Kokingo Uchijini:
    (The Chestnut Tree and The Death of Kokingo)
    Wakaba-no-Naishi (Ichikawa Komaz˘), the wife of the Heike commander Koremochi travels with her young son and their retainer Kokingo (Kataoka Ainosuke), searching for her husband. While resting in a small mountain village, they are met by Gonta (Kataoka Nizaemon), a local bully who skillfully cons them out of their money. Later they are set upon by Genji forces, and in a spectacular fight scene, Kokingo sacrifices himself to save his mistress and her son.
  • Sushiya:
    (The Sushi Shop)
    Gonta's father Yazaemon (Band˘ Takesabur˘) runs a sushi shop, but was formerly a retainer of Taira Koremochi. With his clan defeated, Koremochi (Kataoka Hidetar˘) now lives with Yazaemon's family disguised as a humble apprentice. Innocently, Yazaemon's daughter, Osato (Kataoka Takatar˘) is in love with him. But knowing of the bounty on Koremochi's head, her brother Gonta kills him and turns his wife and child over to the Genji commander. Furious at his son, Yazaemon stabs him, but before his death, Gonta reveals that he only pretended to kill Koremochi and sacrificed his own wife and son to save the real Koremochi and his family.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Zenshinza Tour
    Dates 7 July ~ 2 August 2009

    Gojű no T˘


    Arashi Keishi, Fujikawa Yanosuke, Nakamura Tsuruz˘, Nakamura Seinosuke, Yamazaki Ryűnosuke, Anegawa Shinnosuke, Osagawa Genjir˘, Ikushima Kigor˘, Matsunami Kihachir˘


    The Zenshinza troupe is on tour all over Japan:

  • Gojű no T˘: a dramatization of the classic story by K˘da Rohan. This play shows the rivalry between the slow Jűbŕ (Arashi Keishi) and sophisticated Genta (Fujikawa Yanosuke) to build a magnificent pagoda for a temple. Although it seems natural for Genta to be awarded the contract, it becomes an obsession for Jűbŕ and finally their rivalry becomes the reason for the successful completion of the pagoda.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Rihga Royal Hotel (ďsaka)
    Dates 23 July 2009 (Buy˘ Event)

    Azuma Hakkei


    Ichikawa Kamejir˘


    A short Buy˘ event, starring Ichikawa Kamejir˘ in the Nagauta-based dance "Azuma Hakkei".

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