JUNE 2006

4 shows in T˘ky˘ (Kabukiza, National Theatre, Mitsukoshi Gekij˘), 2 in Fukuoka (Hakataza), 1 in Ky˘to (Minamiza) and 2 tours (Kansai, Zenshinza)!!

Kabukiza (T˘ky˘)
Dates 2 ~ 26 June 2006 (Rokugatsu ďkabuki)
MatinÚe

Kimi-ga-Yo Sh˘chikubai

Futatsu Ch˘ch˘ Kuruwa Nikki (Sum˘ba)

Fujito

Arakawa no Sakichi

Evening

Kurayami no Ushimatsu

Migawari Zazen

Ninin Yűgiri

Casting

Nakamura Kichiemon, Kataoka Nizaemon, Onoe Kikugor˘, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Matsumoto K˘shir˘, Nakamura Baigyoku, Nakamura Kaishun, Nakamura Fukusuke, Kataoka Hidetar˘, Ichikawa Danshir˘, Nakamura Kanjaku, Kataoka Ainosuke, Kataoka Takatar˘, Ichikawa Danz˘, Nakamura Kash˘, Kataoka Roen, Nakamura T˘z˘, Ichikawa Somegor˘, Ichikawa Monnosuke, ďtani Tomoemon, Nakamura Kikaku, Kawarazaki Gonjűr˘, Ichikawa Komaz˘, Nakamura Matsue, Nakamura Utae, Ichikawa Omez˘, Sawamura S˘nosuke, Matsumoto K˘emon, Matsumoto Kingo, Sawamura Yoshijir˘, Onoe Matsuya, Sawamura Tetsunosuke, Band˘ Kametoshi, Nakamura Kichinosuke, Nakamura Baishi, Nakamura Tanetar˘

Comments

  • Kimi-ga-Yo Sh˘chikubai: the program begins with a graceful dance evoking three plants that are regarded as auspicious symbols of prosperity and long life. Featuring Nakamura Kanjaku as the spirit of the pine, Kataoka Takatar˘ as the spirit of the bamboo and Kataoka Ainosuke as the spirit of the plum.
  • Sum˘ba: "Futatsu Ch˘ch˘" means "two butterflies" and also comes from the fact that two sum˘ wrestlers who play important roles in the full length play have names beginning with "ch˘": Ch˘kichi and Ch˘gor˘. In order to help his master buy out the contract of the beautiful Azuma (Ichikawa Komaz˘), the senior wrestler Nuregami Ch˘gor˘ throws a match, letting the younger wrestler Hanaregoma Ch˘kichi win, hoping to get his help. But Ch˘kichi loses his temper and the two end up competing in a test of pride. Starring popular actor Matsumoto K˘shir˘ as Ch˘gor˘ and Ichikawa Somegor˘ (Matsumoto K˘shir˘'s son) as Ch˘kichi.
  • Fujito: a modern dance based on a tragic play. The general Sasaki Moritsuna (Nakamura Baigyoku) won a battle by learning where the shallow place to cross a river was from a local fisher boy named Fujito and then killed the boy to keep the secret. Moritsuna is confronted by the boy's mother (Nakamura Kichiemon) and denies it, until the spirit of Fujito speaks directly of Moritsuna's treachery.
  • Arakawa no Sakichi: a modern classic by Mayama Seika, this play set in the late Edo period combines tears and laughter as it focuses on a gang member caught between the bitter territorial battles of the people around him, and his fierce determination to raise his child. Starring Kataoka Nizaemon and Onoe Kikugor˘ in the roles of Sakichi and Sagamiya Masagor˘.
  • Kurayami no Ushimatsu: a modern masterpiece by Hasegawa Shin (1884 - 1963) first performed in 1934. It shows Ushimatsu, a cook with a very strong sense of justice, who is forced to kill the evil stepmother of his lover Oyone. Ushimatsu flees, but entrusts Oyone to Shir˘bei, his trusted workmate. Some years later, he sneaks back into Edo, but on his way, he encounters Oyone as a prostitute in an inn outside of town. She tries to explain that Shir˘bei treacherously seduced her and then sold her into prostitution as soon as Ushimatsu was gone. Ushimatsu refuses to listen to her, and heartbroken, Oyone commits suicide. In the final scene, Ushimatsu goes to kill Shir˘bei as he is in the public bath. This tense human drama is set against the details of common life in Edo: a roadside inn, the backroom of a bathhouse. Starring Matsumoto K˘shir˘ as Ushimatsu, with Nakamura Fukusuke as Oyone with Ichikawa Danshir˘ as Shir˘bei and Kataoka Hidetar˘ as Shir˘bei's wife.
  • Migawari Zazen: A dance play adopted from a classical ky˘gen farce. A man (Onoe Kikugor˘) wants nothing more than to visit his lover Hanako, but he has one important problem, his homely and overbearing wife (Kataoka Nizaemon). He creates a scheme saying that he will be practicing zen meditation all night and has his servant take his place while he visits Hanako. He returns, giddy from a night of pleasure and tells his story to his servant in dance, unaware that his wife has discovered his deception and has taken his servant's place.
  • Ninin Yűgiri: One of the most famous plays in the repertory of Kansai Kabuki is about the love affair of the top-ranking courtesan Yűgiri and fabulously wealthy Izaemon. Izaemon is disowned by his family and reduced to wearing a paper kimono, but still burns with love for Yűgiri. The original play was written to commemorate the death of a fabulously famous courtesan, but has come to be the most representative portrait of the Kansai pleasure quarters. This particular play is a kind of sequel to the original. After the death of the original Yűgiri, Izaemon (Nakamura Baigyoku) lives with the courtesan who has succeeded to Yűgiri's name (Nakamura Tokiz˘), but much to their surprise, the first Yűgiri (Nakamura Kaishun) is not dead, but has fallen on very hard times.
  • Sh˘riya Aragor˘'s recommendations: "Sum˘ba", "Migawari Zazen" and "Kurayami no Ushimatsu".
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Hakataza (Fukuoka)
    Dates 2 ~ 26 June 2006 (Rokugatsu ďkabuki)
    MatinÚe

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

    Renjishi

    Ninj˘ Banashi Bunshichi Mottoi

    Evening

    Gozonji Suzu-ga-Mori

    K˘j˘

    Benten Musume Meo no Shiranami

  • Hamamatsuya
  • Inasegawa Seizoroi
  • Amagoi Gitsune (Yago no Gohenge)

    Casting

    Nakamura Kanzabur˘, Nakamura Tomijűr˘, Nakamura Shikan, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Ichikawa Sadanji, Nakamura Senjaku, Band˘ Yajűr˘, Kataoka Ichiz˘, Kataoka Kamez˘, Nakamura Kantar˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke, Nakamura Genzaemon

    Comments

    Nakamura Kanzabur˘ celebrates his shűmei in Fukuoka at the Hakataza, playing the roles of the spirit of the Lion, Ch˘bŕ and Benten Koz˘ in the dramas "Renjishi", "Bunshichi Mottoi" and "Benten Musume".

  • 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 Nakamura Hashinosuke as Kumagai, with Nakamura Senjaku as Kumagai's wife Sagami, Nakamura Shichinosuke as Fuji-no-Kata, Nakamura Kantar˘ as Yoshitsune and Band˘ Yajűr˘ as Midaroku.
  • Renjishi: 2 entertainers dance a tale of the legendary shishi or lion-like spirits that live at the foot of a holy Buddhist mountain. There is a comic interlude with 2 Buddhist pilgrims. Then, the shishi themselves appear and perform their dance with wild shaking of their long manes. The dance shows a parent shishi forcing his cub to undergo harsh training in order to grow up strong. This theme is often associated with the training a parent actor gives his son. This performance is unusual because it features 2 cubs instead of one, starring Nakamura Kanzabur˘ in the role of the parent shishi and his two sons, Nakamura Kantar˘ and Nakamura Shichinosuke, in the roles of the cubs.
  • Bunshichi Mottoi: Ch˘bŕ spends his days and nights gambling, but is finally made aware of his family's problems when his daughter takes a job in the pleasure quarters. Having received the money for her contract, he shows his good side to save a young man on the edge of suicide after losing a large sum of money, but nobody believes Ch˘bŕ, thinking that he has gambled the money away. The performance stars Nakamura Kanzabur˘ and Nakamura Senjaku in the roles of Ch˘bŕ and his wife Okane.
  • Gozonji Suzu-ga-Mori: The young samurai Shirai Gonpachi (Nakamura Shichinosuke) is ambushed near the execution grounds of Edo on a dark night, but he manages to escape after a gruesome but humorous fight scene. He is watched by Banzuiin Ch˘bŕ (Nakamura Hashinosuke), an Edo boss, who is impressed with his fighting skills and agrees to give him shelter in the city. This meeting between the handsome young Gonpachi and the heroic Ch˘bŕ is one of the most famous meetings in Kabuki.
  • K˘j˘: there is a close relationship between the stage and the audience in Kabuki and this is shown by these ceremonial stage announcements where the top stars of the company address the audience directly. This month, the actors celebrate the shűmei of Nakamura Kanzabur˘.
  • 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. Nakamura Kanzabur˘ stars as Benten Koz˘, with Nakamura Tomijűr˘ as Nippon Daemon, Ichikawa Sadanji as Nang˘ Rikimaru, Nakamura Hashinosuke as Tadanobu Rihei and Nakamura Senjaku as Akaboshi Jűzabur˘.
  • Amagoi Gitsune: it is a 5-role modern hengemono, starring Nakamura Kantar˘. The roles are a wild fox, the "rain-making" maiden in the service of a shrine, a blind masseur, Ono-no-T˘fű and the wife of the fox. The main theme of this dance is the prayer for rain (amagoi) at the beginning of Summer and the use of a fox skin to make a rain-making hand-drum.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    National Theatre (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 1 ~ 24 June 2006 (Rokugatsu Kabuki Kansh˘ Ky˘shitsu)
    Program Kokusen'ya Gassen
    Casting

    Nakamura Shibajaku, Onoe Sh˘roku, Nakamura Shinjir˘, Ichikawa Unosuke, Band˘ Shűch˘

    Comments

    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 on stage of Kabuki or some aspects of the art like music, stage tricks or fighting scenes, followed by Chikamatsu Monzaemon's masterpiece "Kokusen'ya Gassen": originally written for the Bunraku puppet theater, it is oldest period play in the puppet repertory with a continuous performance tradition. This exotic play on a grand scale by Chikamatsu Monzaemon is based on the true story of a warrior from Japan, who fought in China to restore the Ming dynasty after its fall. Wat˘nai (whose name means "neither Chinese nor Japanese") is the son of a Chinese official and a Japanese mother. This performance features the touching drama as Wat˘nai goes with his parents to try to enlist the aid of his sister Kinsh˘jo, now the wife of the powerful Chinese general Kanki. She eventually agrees, but can only do so by making a terrible sacrifice. Starring Nakamura Shibajaku, Onoe Sh˘roku and Nakamura Shinjir˘ in the roles of Kinsh˘jo, Wat˘nai and Kanki.

    Mitsukoshi Gekij˘ (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 2 ~ 22 June 2006
    Program

    Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami (Kurumabiki)

    Onna Goroshi Abura no Jigoku

    Casting

    Nakamura Shid˘, Ichikawa Danjir˘, Band˘ Takesabur˘, Ichikawa Emisabur˘, Ichikawa En'ya, Ichikawa Shun'en, Ichikawa Juen, Band˘ Shinsha

    Comments

    "Mitsukoshi Kabuki", a special Kabuki program at the Mitsukoshi Theatre, starring some young rising stars.

  • Kurumabiki: this short scene shows the three brothers that dominate the drama "Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami", each with a distinctive personality. Sakuramaru and Ume˘maru have been rendered masterless by Kan Sh˘j˘'s exile. The third brother Matsu˘maru serves the villain Shihei, who is responsible for the downfall of Kan Sh˘j˘. Sakuramaru and Ume˘maru try to destroy Shihei's carriage but are stopped by Matsu˘maru and the magical glare of Shihei. Finally the brothers agree to suspend their disputes until they all meet at their father's seventieth birthday party. The performance stars Ichikawa Danjir˘, Ichikawa En'ya and Ichikawa Shun'en in the roles of Matsu˘maru, Ume˘maru and Sakuramaru.
  • Onna Goroshi Abura no Jigoku: this play has become phenomenally popular in modern times for its hard-boiled sensibility and sensuous killing scene with the protagonists slipping and struggling through puddles of spilled oil, but was virtually ignored at the time it was written. It shows Yohŕ, the wastrel son of a well-to-do merchant, who constantly tries to borrow money from Okichi, the wife of a neighboring oil merchant. Pressed for funds, he tries to blackmail her, but ends up killing her in the long, dream-like scene that gives this play its title, "the woman killer and the hell of oil"). Starring Nakamura Shid˘ and Ichikawa Emisabur˘ in the roles of Yohŕ and Okichi.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Minamiza (Ky˘to)
    Dates 9 ~ 25 June 2006
    Program

    Amaterasu

    Casting Band˘ Tamasabur˘, the Kod˘ taiko drummers
    Comments

    Telling the story of the principal goddess of Shint˘ mythology and the progenitor of the imperial line, Amaterasu, say the Kod˘ taiko drummers and Kabuki star Band˘ Tamasabur˘, is intended to tackle the thorny issues of "Japanĺs place in the world" and its "past vs. present". The project is the culmination of several years of collaboration between Kod˘ and Band˘ Tamasabur˘ that began when the actor traveled to Kod˘ĺs commune on far-flung Sado Island to prepare for their 2003 concert series, in which Band˘ Tamasabur˘ choreographed the group. In a press conference held at the end of last year to announce Amaterasu, Band˘ Tamasabur˘ explained the genesis of the project. "I took my first of several trips to Sado Island in 2000 and directed the Kod˘ One Earth Tour Special in 2003. Immediately after that project was over, I thought, "Next time weĺll take to the stage together", and discussed the idea with Kod˘. We thought that the best theme for this project would be Japanese mythology, and Amaterasu was born". According to ancient Japanese chronicles, the sun goddess Amaterasu, angered by the unruly behavior of her younger brother, the storm god Susanoo, retreated into a cave and left the world in darkness. Finally the goddess Ama-no-Uzume and others were able to lure Amaterasu from her cave with a dance. The sun goddess resumed her position in the heavens, and light and order were restored. Band˘ Tamasabur˘, renowned for playing onnagata female roles in Kabuki, will play Amaterasu, and the Kod˘ drummers act as the other gods.

    Source: Dan Grunebaum

    The staging of "Amaterasu" celebrates the 25th year of the Kod˘ troupe!

    Educational Kabuki tour in Kansai
    Date 3 ~ 19 June 2006
    Program

    Narukami

    Casting

    Kataoka Gat˘, Kamimura Kichiya, Kataoka Shinnosuke

    Comments

    31st edition of an educational Kabuki tour in Kansai. It starts with a presentation on Kabuki and the highlight of the program is the great drama "Narukami":

    It is one of the most popular and universally appealing plays in the Kabuki Jűhachiban collection of plays featuring the bombastic aragoto style of acting. The holy man Narukami is angry at the Imperial Court and has taken refuge in the mountains where he has imprisoned inside a waterfall the dragon that brings rain, bringing a severe drought to the country. Princess Taema is sent by the Imperial Court to try to seduce Narukami, destroying his magical powers and release the rain. When he finds that he has been betrayed, anger transforms Narukami into a Thunder God. This performance stars Kataoka Gat˘ and Kamimura Kichiya in the roles of the wicked priest Narukami and Princess Taema.

    Zenshinza Tour
    Dates 2 ~ 30 June 2006
    Program

    K˘j˘

    ďmi no Okane

    Sakura Giminden

    Casting

    Arashi Keishi, Kawarazaki Kunitar˘, Segawa Kikunoj˘, Fujikawa Yanosuke, Yamazaki Ryűnosuke, Yamazaki Tatsusabur˘, Osagawa Genjir˘, Anegawa Shinnosuke, Kiriyama Rish˘

    Comments

  • K˘j˘: there is a close relationship between the stage and the audience in Kabuki and this is shown by these ceremonial stage announcements where the top stars of the company address the audience directly. For this tour, the actors celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Zenshinza troupe.
  • ďmi no Okane: Okane was a famous strong woman living on the shores of Lake Biwa and is known for stopping a runaway horse with her bare hands. This has become a Kabuki dance that combines strength and charming femininity. This production stars Kawarazaki Kunitar˘ as Okane.
  • Sakura Giminden: this play is rare among classics in having a political theme. It depicts a country landlord Kiuchi S˘g˘ (Arashi Keishi) who cannot stand the suffering of the farmers around him. A series of bad harvests has made things very hard, but corrupt officials refuse to lower taxes or relent in any way. Finally, S˘g˘ decides to bring the case directly to the Sh˘gun, a move punishable by death. The play shows S˘g˘ as he persuades the old keeper of the river crossing (Fujikawa Yanosuke) to let him pass and says a final farewell to his wife Osan (Segawa Kikunoj˘) and children. Meanwhile, he is watched by a villainous informer, Maboroshi no Ch˘kichi. Finally, S˘g˘ brings his case directly to the Sh˘gun, knowing that whether he is successful or not, he will be executed.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

     
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