|TÔJÛRÔ NO KOI|
|Play title||Tôjûrô no Koi|
|Authors||Kikuchi Kan (novel)
Ômori Chisetsu (script)
"Tôjûrô no Koi" is made up of two acts (3 scenes).
Members of the troupe of Kabuki actors performing at the nadai Miyako Mandayû'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 Tôjûrô, expert in nuregoto, while beside him is the onnagata Kirinami Senju, who will play the female roles opposite Tôjûrô. 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 Mohê for Osan a married woman. There is every evidence that this kantsûmono will win great popularity for the troupe, and win back many fans from the rival troupes.
Only Tôjûrô 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 Mohê, but he is worried, for he feels that he cannot portray the role properly. The other actors talk about the role of Mohê and about the delights of illicit love (kantsû), this only adding to Tôjûrô'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. Tôjûrô has no idea how a man might go about making such love. Finally, leaving the merry company, he sneaks off alone to another room.
Tôjûrô, 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 Mohê 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. Tôjûrô recognizes her and sits up, while Okaji brings out quilts for him so that he can continue his nap without catching a cold. Suddenly Tôjûrô'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 Tôjûrô 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 Tôjûrô to embrace her. Tôjûrô shows signs of agitation. Then, he slips out of the room while Okaji tries to run after him. Tôjûrô closes the sliding doors behind him, and then runs off in a state of agitation.
It is about seven days later, and the much talked-about play has already opened at the theater of Miyako Mandayû. It is a tremendous hit, and the theater has a full house daily. In the meantime, strange rumors are beginning to float around, that Tôjûrô has actually enacted a seduction of a married woman in real life, in order to be able to perfect the role of Mohê. The actor friends of Tôjûrô 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 Tôjûrô, 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 Tôjûrô 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 Tôjûrô has not asked her to help him try out his role of Mohê. 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 Tôjûrô. Laughing, she starts to leave. Just at this moment, Tôjûrô 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 Tôjûrô about the scandalous rumor, but Tôjûrô replies that the stories are unfounded. The time for the curtain opening nears. Tôjûrô 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. Tôjûrô 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 Tôjûrô, looks with apprehension at Tôjûrô, for he is quite sure that Okaji has died because of Tôjûrô's deeds. Tôjûrô 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. Tôjûrô, 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.
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