APRIL 2008

2 shows in T˘ky˘ (Kabukiza), 1 in Nagoya (Misonoza), 3 in ďsaka (Sh˘chikuza), 1 in Fukuoka (Hakataza), 1 in Ky˘to (Minamiza), 2 on Shikoku island (Kanamaruza) and 1 in Kumamoto (Kumamoto Castle)!

Kabukiza (T˘ky˘)
Dates 2 ~ 26 April 2008 (Shigatsu ďkabuki)
MatinÚe

Honch˘ Nijűshik˘ (Jusshuk˘)

Yuya

Irezumi Ch˘han

Evening

Sh˘gun Edo o Saru

Kanjinch˘

Ukare Shinjű

Casting

Band˘ Tamasabur˘, Kataoka Nizaemon, Nakamura Kanzabur˘, Band˘ Mitsugor˘, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Kataoka Gat˘, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Kataoka Hidetar˘, Band˘ Yajűr˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke

Comments

  • Jusshuk˘: Princess Yaegaki is mourning the death of his fiance Katsuyori, but as she burns incense in his memory, she notices the resemblance between the new gardener and her fiance's portrait. The gardener is in fact Katsuyori, who has entered the household of Yaegaki's father to regain the possession of a stolen family treasure, a famous helmet, with the help of Nureginu, a woman who also mourns for the man that died in the place of the real Katsuyori. Unfortunately, Yaegaki's father has also seen through the disguise and plans to kill Katsuyori. The role of Princess Yaegaki, one of the most important onnagata roles, is played by Nakamura Tokiz˘, supported by Nakamura Hashinosuke and Kataoka Hidetar˘ in the roles of Katsuyori and Nureginu.
  • Yuya: originally a play from the classical theater, this was transformed into an elegant dance by Mishima Yukio for the great onnagata Nakamura Utaemon VI. This month marks a rare revival by Band˘ Tamasabur˘ who will make this dance his own. A beautiful woman named Yuya wants to go home to see her dying mother once more, but she is forced to go on a trip to view the cherry blossoms by her lover, a powerful government minister (Kataoka Nizaemon). As they view the blossoms, she reads a letter from her mother and dances sadly. Finally her lover is moved and allows her to go.
  • Irezumi Ch˘han:
    (Tattooed Hantar˘)
    A play by the early 20th century writer Hasegawa Shin, who portrayed the lives of those on the bottom of society, often gangsters forced to live their lives on the road. Though a good man, Hantar˘ (Nakamura Kanzabur˘) has a weakness for gambling. Having been forced to leave Edo due to this weakness, he marries Onaka (Band˘ Tamasabur˘), a woman he saves from suicide by drowning. Though Hantar˘ has given up gambling for the sake of the ill Onaka, her dying wish is that he return to what he loves the most, and Hantar˘ is unable to ignore the request of his love.
  • Sh˘gun Edo o Saru:
    (The Sh˘gun's Surrender)
    This modern play by Mayama Seika is part of a trilogy about the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate. The shogunate official Yamaoka Tetsutar˘ (Nakamura Hashinosuke) has already pleaded successfully to the imperial forces for the life of the Sh˘gun in return for his surrender. But the Sh˘gun Yoshinobu (Band˘ Mitsugor˘) begins to reconsider and now Yamaoka must plead with the Sh˘gun to surrender without a struggle as he promised or he will run the risk of having the entire country fall into civil war.
  • Kanjinch˘: probably the most popular Kabuki play today, it includes dance, comedy and the heart-warming pathos of a band of heroes during their last days. Disguised as a band of traveling priests the fugitive general Yoshitsune and his small band of retainers are stopped at a road barrier. They escape only through the quick thinking of the head retainer, a warrior priest named Musashib˘ Benkei, who improvises the text of an elaborate imperial decree. Having escaped danger Benkei and the others describe their days of glory and hardships on the road to escape in a moving dance. This program stars Kataoka Nizaemon in the role of Benkei, with Band˘ Tamasabur˘ and Nakamura Kanzabur˘ as Yoshitsune and the barrier keeper Togashi.
  • Ukare Shinjű: based on a novel by contemporary writer Inoue Hisashi, this is a parody of all serious love suicide plays and finally ends with the main characters flying through the air on their way to the underworld. Full of thrills and comedy and with popular star Nakamura Kanzabur˘ making a rare flight through the theater.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Misonoza (Nagoya)
    Dates 1 ~ 24 April 2008 (Y˘shun ďkabuki)
    MatinÚe

    Hirakana Seisuiki (Genta Kand˘)

    Onihei Hankach˘ (ďkawa no Inkyo)

    Evening

    Matsuura no Taiko

    Enma to Seirai

    Yowa Nasake Ukina no Yokogushi (Kirare Yosa)

  • Misome
  • Genjidana
  • Casting

    Nakamura Kichiemon, Ichikawa Sadanji, Nakamura Shibajaku, Nakamura T˘z˘, Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Kash˘, Ichikawa Somegor˘

    Comments

  • Genta Kand˘:
    (Genta Disowned)
    This jidaimono period play shows the gentle warrior Kajiwara Genta. At the battle of the Uji River, he competes with a fellow warrior Sasaki Takatsuna to be first into battle. Out of the shame, his father sends a letter ordering him to commit ritual suicide. But to save her son's life, Genta's mother Enju disowns him instead. Knowing that the lady-in-waiting Chidori is in love with Genta, Enju dismisses her from service, secretly allowing the two lovers to be together. Featuring Ichikawa Somegor˘, Nakamura Shibajaku, Nakamura Kash˘ and Nakamura T˘z˘ as Genta, Chidori, Genta's brother Heiji and Enju.
  • ďkawa no Inkyo: Onihei Hankach˘ is a popular series of novels, written by Ikenami Shotar˘ from 1967, and successfully adapted to television. In all, 135 stories were published. The hero is Hasegawa Heiz˘, head of the special police who had jurisdiction over arson and robberies in Edo. His nickname is "Onihei," which means "Heiz˘ the Devil". He leads a band of law-enforcers and cultivates reformed criminals as informants to solve difficult crimes. This episode, "The Retired of the ďkawa River" is about the stealing of Onihei's precious silver kiseru, a souvenir from his late father. The investigations lead Onihei to the old boatman Tomogor˘, who used to be a thief but he's supposed to have retired. Featuring Nakamura Kichiemon and Nakamura Karoku in the roles of Onihei and Tomogor˘.
  • Matsuura no Taiko: Lord Matsuura (Nakamura Kichiemon) lives next door to the enemy of the loyal retainers and is disgusted because they do not seem to be interested in avenging the death of the lord. He is especially upset because he studied with the same fighting teacher as Kuranosuke, the senior retainer who should be leading the vendetta. Moreover, he learns from the haiku teacher Takarai Kikaku (Nakamura Karoku) that his student ďtaka Gengo (Ichikawa Somegor˘) who should be part of the vendetta left a poem suggesting that he was forgetting his former lord and going to take service with another samurai lord. Gengo's sister Onui (Nakamura Shibajaku) serves Lord Matsuura and in disgust he is about to dismiss her, when there is a disturbance from next door. The attack has begun, and in joy, Lord Matsuura counts out the strokes of the drum, struck in a pattern that is only known by students of his fighting teacher.
  • Enma to Seirai: this is a new dance play written by Nakamura Kichiemon himself under the name Matsu Kanshi that is an adaptation of a Ky˘gen farce. Enma, the king of hell (Ichikawa Sadanji) is upset that religion has meant that fewer people are falling into hell. He summons a falconer named Seirai (Nakamura Kichiemon) and wants to condemn him for taking life, but the falconer says that it is the falcon that does it and he is blameless. In dance, he describes hunting with a falcon and this is so interesting that Enma himself wants to try it.
  • Kirare Yosa: Yosabur˘ (Ichikawa Somegor˘), the refined young son of a wealthy merchant falls in love with Otomi (Nakamura Shibajaku) the moment he first sees her on the beach. But Otomi is the mistress of a powerful gangster, and when their relationship is discovered, the two are attacked. Yosabur˘ is cut from head to toe and the two are dumped into the sea. Otomi lives and is taken in by a rich merchant while Yosabur˘ is now covered with scars. Yosabur˘ turns into a petty thief and extortionist but one day, finds that the woman he is about to blackmail is none other than Otomi, alive and well.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website, except "ďkawa no Inkyo"

    Kanamaruza (Konpira)
    Dates 5 ~ 23 April 2008 (Shikoku Konpira Kabuki ďshibai)
    MatinÚe

    Futatsu Ch˘ch˘ Kuruwa Nikki (Sum˘ba)

    Tachi Nusubito

    Shibaraku

    Evening

    Natsu Matsuri Naniwa Kagami

  • Sumiyoshi Torii Mae
  • Tsuribune Sabu Uchi
  • Nagamachi Ura
  • Tomo Yakko

    Casting

    Ichikawa Ebiz˘, Ichikawa Unosuke, Kataoka Ichiz˘, Ichikawa Omez˘, Band˘ Kametoshi, Onoe Matsuya, Onoe Ukon

    Comments

    24th edition of the Spring Kabuki performance Shikoku Konpira Kabuki ďshibai at the Kanamaruza on Shikoku island.

  • 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, 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 Kataoka Ichiz˘ as Ch˘gor˘ and Onoe Matsuya as Ch˘kichi.
  • Tachi Nusubito: the farces of the classical Ky˘gen theater have universal appeal, showing the relationships of masters and servants and husbands and wives. In this particular dance play, a farmer named Manbŕ (Band˘ Kametoshi) carries a precious sword, which is made of gold. The thief Kurobŕ (Ichikawa Omez˘) quietly removes the sword from Manbŕ in a crowd. When Manbŕ finds his sword missing and notices Kurobŕ wearing it, a loud dispute ensues. Manbŕ and Kurobŕ must both explain who owns the sword, first in words, then in dance to a magistrate, who must try to figure out who tells the truth.
  • Shibaraku:
    (Wait a Minute!)
    More ceremony than play, "Shibaraku" is one of the oldest pieces in Kabuki. Just as an evil villain is about to execute a group of loyal retainers, a voice calls out for him to wait and a hero of justice (Ichikawa Ebiz˘) appears to save the day. This play features the bombastic aragoto style of acting, which is the specialty of the Ichikawa Danjűr˘ line of actors and is part of the collection of the Eighteen Favorite Plays (Kabuki Jűhachiban) of the Ichikawa Family.
  • 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 and Otatsu, with Onoe Matsuya and Ichikawa Omez˘ as Tokubŕ and Sabu.
  • Tomo Yakko: a samurai footman rushes after his master in the pleasure quarters, but loses sight of him. He dances with pride in his master and enjoys his dance so much that he begins emphasizing it with vigorous foot stamping. Starring Onoe Ukon in the role of the yakko.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Sh˘chikuza (ďsaka)
    Dates 5 ~ 13 April 2008 (Naniwa Hanagata Kabuki)
    MatinÚe

    Imoseyama Onna Teikin

  • Michiyuki Koi no Odamaki
  • Mikasayama Goten
  • Afternoon

    Narihira Azuma Kagami

    Futatsu Ch˘ch˘ Kuruwa Nikki

  • Sum˘ba
  • Nanba Ura Koroshi
  • Hikimado
  • Evening

    Osome Hisamatsu Ukina no Yomiuri
    (Osome no Nanayaku)

    Casting

    Nakamura Kanjaku, Nakamura Senjaku, Kataoka Ainosuke, Nakamura Kikaku, Kataoka Takatar˘, Band˘ Takesabur˘, Band˘ Shinsha, Kataoka Shinnosuke, Nakamura Kazutar˘

    Comments

    5th edition of the Naniwa Hanagata Kabuki April program, staged by a troupe of young Kamigata actors.

  • Koi no Odamaki: in a world of political intrigue, the young court aristocrat Tankai (Nakamura Senjaku) disguises himself as a humble maker of court caps named Motome. Omiwa (Kataoka Takatar˘), the passionate daughter of a neighboring sake shop, falls in love with him. But Motome is also seeing a princess (Nakamura Kazutar˘) who is the sister of the villain of the piece. This dance scene shows the rivalry of the two women and in the end they follow one another by tracing threads from colorful spinning spools that seem to become an image of the tangled ties of love and jealousy that animate this dance.
  • Mikasayama Goten: a fantastic Kabuki period play showing intrigues in the imperial court in the earliest days of Japan. The dictator Soga no Iruka has set up his own court and now seeks to destroy his opponent Kamatari. A mysterious fisherman named Fukashichi (Kataoka Ainosuke) comes as a messenger from Kamatari, claiming to bring a message of surrender. Meanwhile, Iruka's younger sister, Princess Tachibana (Nakamura Kazutar˘) has fallen in love with a handsome young man named Motome (Nakamura Senjaku). But Motome is actually the son of Kamatari and says that he will only grant her love if she will cut off Iruka's head. Moreover, a country girl named Omiwa (Kataoka Takatar˘) has also followed Motome. Omiwa's blood and the work of all these people combined are what is necessary to finally defeat the magical powers of the evil Iruka.
  • Narihira Azuma Kagami: a short dance, performed to Nagauta accompaniment and starring Kataoka Shinnosuke as the Heian period court poet, Ariwara no Narihira, and Band˘ Shinsha as his male attendant. The dance has no particular story but depicts the beautiful young aristocrat travelling in the open countryside on his way from Ky˘to to "Azuma", ("the East").
  • 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 (Nakamura Kazutar˘), 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 Nakamura Kikaku as Ch˘gor˘ and Nakamura Kanjaku as Ch˘kichi.
  • Nanba Ura: We see the tragic intrigues that force Ch˘gor˘ to kill a man and flee.
  • Hikimado: Nuregami Ch˘gor˘ takes refuge at the home of his mother. Unfortunately, her son (Nakamura Kanjaku) has been ordered to arrest him. All of these complicated conflicts are symbolized by the lightness and darkness created by the humble skylight (hikimado in Japanese) as a rope is pulled to move a wooden shutter.
  • Osome no Nanayaku:
    (The 7 roles of Osome)
    The story of the love suicide of Osome, the daughter of a wealthy merchant and Hisamatsu, a handsome young man that was an apprentice in her family's shop, is one of the most popular stories in Kabuki and was dramatized countless times. In 1813, Tsuruya Nanboku IV (1755~1829) wrote up this story as a showpiece for Iwai Hanshir˘ V, an onnagata specialist in female roles. One actor plays seven of the major roles in the play: Osome, Hisamatsu, the poor Osaku, Omitsu (Hisamatsu's official fiance), Hisamatsu's sister Takegawa, the geisha Koito, Osome's mother Teish˘ and a snake charmer named Oroku. Nakamura Senjaku makes a virtuoso appearance in this play, acting in all seven roles, including the fastest on-stage fast change in all Kabuki. Also featuring Kataoka Ainosuke as Oroku's fiance Kimon no Kihŕ.
  • Sources: Earphone Guide website
    Paul M. Griffith for "Narihira Azuma Kagami"

    Minamiza (Ky˘to)
    Dates 20 ~ 26 April 2008 (Kabuki Kansh˘ Ky˘shitsu)
    Program

    Hanabusa Shűjaku no Shishi

    Casting

    Kamimura Kichiya

    Comments

    16th edition of a pedagogical show in Ky˘to combining explanation for beginners (done by the professional storyteller Katsura Kujaku) and the dance-drama "Hanabusa Shűjaku no Shishi": lion dances (shishi) show a vigorous masculine spirit that is the guardian of a sacred mountain in China. But the Kabuki tradition transforms this fierce dance into a showpiece for an elegant female role specialist. Kamimura Kichiya stars as a top-ranking courtesan elegantly in a banquet parlor who is then transformed into a feminine version of the spirit of the lion.

    Hakataza (Fukuoka)
    Dates 3 ~ 26 April 2008 (Super Kabuki)
    Program Yamato Takeru
    Casting

    Ichikawa Ukon, Ichikawa Danjir˘, Ichikawa Emiya, Ichikawa Monnosuke, Ichikawa Emisabur˘, Ichikawa Shun'en, Ichikawa En'ya, Ichikawa Juen, Kaneda Ryűnosuke

    Comments

    Ichikawa Ennosuke's troupe of young and talented actors perform a modern style of theater, which they created a few years ago and called "Super Kabuki" (SűpÔ Kabuki in Chikamatsu Monzaemon's lingo): it's spectacular (lots of chűnori), the costums are gorgeous and ultra-sophisticated, the music is modern, the texts are easy to understand and the plots are as twisted as a good Kabuki classic. Usually a big commercial success! "Yamato Takeru" was the first SűpÔ Kabuki drama of the Omodakaya guild and the most successful one. For this revival, the leading role of Yamato Takeru is played by both Ichikawa Danjir˘ and Ichikawa Ukon.

    Ichikawa Ennosuke is on sick leave and does not perform in this production.

    Kumamoto Castle (Kumamoto City)
    Dates 30 April 2008 (Band˘ Tamasabur˘ Tokubetsu Buy˘ K˘en)
    Program

    Fuji Musume

    Casting

    Band˘ Tamasabur˘

    Comments

    A special Buy˘ program to end the celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the Building of the Kumamoto Castle (built in 1607), which started the 31st of December 2006 and will end in Spring 2008. There is no entrance fee for this dance program.

     
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