DECEMBER 2007

2 shows in Ky˘to (Minamiza) and 3 in T˘ky˘ (Kabukiza, National Theatre)!

Minamiza (Ky˘to)
Dates 30 November ~ 26 December 2007 (Kichirei Kaomise K˘gy˘ Kabuki)
MatinÚe

Sh˘gun Edo o Saru

Kanjinch˘

Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura (Sushiya)

Ninin Wankyű

Evening

Kajiwara Heiz˘ Homare no Ishikiri
(Ishikiri Kajiwara)

Kotobuki Soga no Taimen

Ky˘ganoko Musume D˘j˘ji

Kumo ni Magou Ueno no Hatsuhana (K˘chiyama)

Sanja Matsuri

Niwaka Jishi

Casting

Nakamura Kinnosuke, Kataoka Nizaemon, Matsumoto K˘shir˘, Nakamura Tomijűr˘, Onoe Kikugor˘, Nakamura Baigyoku, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Nakamura Kanjaku, Ichikawa Sadanji, Kataoka Hidetar˘, Kataoka Gat˘, Nakamura T˘z˘, Kataoka Takatar˘, Kataoka Ainosuke, Nakamura Senjaku, Ichikawa Danz˘, Onoe Kikunosuke, Onoe Sh˘roku, Ichikawa Komaz˘, Matsumoto Kingo, Kataoka Shinnosuke, Nakamura Baishi

Comments

Nakamura Kinnosuke celebrates his shűmei in Ky˘to, playing the roles of Togashi Saemon and Soga Gor˘ in "Kanjinch˘" and "Kotobuki Soga no Taimen".

  • 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˘ (Kataoka Gat˘) 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 (Nakamura Baigyoku) 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 Matsumoto K˘shir˘ in the role of Benkei, with Sakata T˘jűr˘ and the new Nakamura Kinnosuke as Yoshitsune and the barrier keeper Togashi.
  • Sushiya: Gonta's father Yazaemon (Ichikawa Sadanji) runs a sushi shop, but was formerly a retainer of Koremochi. With his clan defeated, Koremochi (Nakamura Tokiz˘) now lives with Yazaemon's family disguised as a humble apprentice named Yasuke. Innocently, Yazaemon's daughter Osato (Onoe Kikunosuke) is in love with him. But knowing of the bounty on Koremochi's head, her brother Gonta (Onoe Kikugor˘) 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.
  • Ninin Wankyű: the fabulously wealthy Wan'ya Kyűbŕ (nicknamed Wankyű) is disowned by his family for falling in love with the courtesan Matsuyama. Then, when she dies, he goes mad with grief and wanders through the countryside. This dance shows him as he imagines meeting Matsuyama again and there is a lively dance recalling their happiness together before the vision fades and he is left alone. Starring Kataoka Nizaemon as Wankyű and his son Kataoka Takatar˘ as Matsuyama.
  • Ishikiri Kajiwara: the Heike general Kajiwara (Matsumoto K˘shir˘) is asked to test the sharpness of a sword by slicing two live human beings in half. He deliberately makes the sword fail the test to keep the sword, a priceless heirloom belonging to the enemy Genji clan, from falling into the hands of his Taira clan. A miracle has convinced Kajiwara to change sides. Kajiwara finally demonstrates the true power of the sword by cutting a large stone basin in two.
  • Soga no Taimen: this is one of the oldest and most classical of all Kabuki plays. In the Edo period, every January, plays appeared about the vendetta carried out by the Soga brothers Jűr˘ and Gor˘ after eighteen years of hardship. In "Soga no Taimen" the brothers confront Kud˘ Suketsune, the man responsible for their father's death. More ceremony than play, it features each of the important Kabuki character types, including the bombastic aragoto style of Gor˘ and the soft wagoto style of Jűr˘. This month features a cast headed by Nakamura Tomijűr˘ as Kud˘ and some of the most popular young stars in Kabuki with the new Nakamura Kinnosuke as Gor˘ and Onoe Kikugor˘ as Jűr˘.
  • Musume D˘j˘ji: a beautiful young woman dances under cherry blossoms at a dedication ceremony for a temple bell. She dances the many aspects of a woman in love, but is actually the spirit of a serpent, driven to destroy the bell out of jealousy. In addition to being the most famous of all Kabuki dances, "Musume D˘j˘ji" is considered to be the pinnacle of the art of the onnagata. The role of the shiraby˘shi is played by Sakata T˘jűr˘, who performs his kiju kinen dance.
  • K˘chiyama: the tea priest K˘chiyama (Kataoka Nizaemon) is a skilled thief and extortionist, but cannot turn down a request to help those in need. He disguises himself as a high-ranking priest to try to gain the freedom of a girl held by a powerful samurai lord (Nakamura Kanjaku) because she will not become his mistress. Using the famous poetic cadences of the late 19th century playwright Mokuami, K˘chiyama not only succeeds in his mission to rescue the girl, but he manages to extort a fair amount for himself.
  • Sanja Matsuri: a vigorous dance starring Onoe Sh˘roku and Onoe Kikunosuke. It is based on dolls at the Sanja festival showing the founding of the temple at Asakusa when two fishermen found a golden image of the Kannon in their nets. In this case, the holy spirits that they encounter are two spheres with the characters for "good" and "evil" on them, and the spirits possess the two and animate them into a lively dance.
  • Niwaka Jishi: this lively dance evokes the atmosphere of an Edo period festival. The highlight of the piece is the lion dance performed by two of the handsome young men of the neighborhood. Featuring Nakamura Senjaku (the geisha) and Nakamura Kanjaku (the firefighter).
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Kabukiza (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 2 ~ 26 December 2007 (Jűnigatsu ďkabuki)
    MatinÚe

    Kamakura Sandaiki
    (Kinugawa-mura Kankyo)

    Onizoroi Momijigari

    Suitengű Megumi no Fukagawa (Fudeya K˘bŕ)

    Evening

    Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami (Terakoya)

    Awa Mochi

    Furu Amerika-ni Sode-ha Nurasaji

    Casting

    Nakamura Kanzabur˘, Band˘ Tamasabur˘, Band˘ Mitsugor˘, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Ichikawa Ebiz˘, Nakamura Fukusuke, Ichikawa Monnosuke, Ichikawa Danjir˘, Ichikawa Ukon, Ichikawa Emisabur˘, Ichikawa Emiya, Band˘ Yajűr˘, Ichikawa Shun'en, Ichikawa En'ya, Nakamura Shid˘, Nakamura Kantar˘, Nakamura Shichinosuke

    Comments

  • Kamakura Sandaiki: a rare performance of a classical history play from the Bunraku puppet theatre, which shows a heroic warrior, unbending mother and delicate princess in romance and intrigue on a grand scale. War has placed the young samurai Miuranosuke (Nakamura Hashinosuke) and his fiance Princess Toki on enemy sides. She takes care of his sick mother despite being on opposite sides, and Miuranosuke slips away from the battle to see his mother one last time. But she refuses to see him when he should be on the battlefield and he must leave, brokenhearted. Princess Toki's father (Band˘ Mitsugor˘) is the leader of the enemy forces and she is faced with a terrible challenge. She will only be allowed to be united with the man she loves if she kills her father. Featuring Nakamura Fukusuke as Princess Toki, considered to be one of the most difficult princess roles in the Kabuki repertory.
  • Onizoroi Momijigari:
    (The Autumn Leaves and the Demon of Mt. Togakushi)
    This dance is a modern adaptation of a colorful Kabuki play based on an austere classic. The aristocrat Koremochi (Ichikawa Ebiz˘) has travelled to view the autumn leaves and encounters a beautiful princess (Band˘ Tamasabur˘) and her entourage. The entire party of beautiful women turns out to be vicious demons and attack Koremochi after lulling him to sleep with a beautiful dream-like dance.
  • Fudeya K˘bŕ: first performed in 1885, this play by Kawatake Mokuami shows the disruptions in society caused by the Meiji Restoration. In the Edo period, the samurai were on top of society, but in the new Meiji world, a samurai unable to find a new way of becoming a success got left behind. This play stars Nakamura Kanzabur˘ as a former samurai named K˘bŕ, who makes a meager living making writing brushes. Since his wife has died, he must raise his three children by himself, but his oldest daughter is blind and the youngest boy is a baby. K˘bŕ is helped by a generous woman named Omura (Nakamura Fukusuke), but everything that he has is taken by a moneylender and he decides that he and his family have no choice but to commit suicide. Suddenly, there is the sound of merry music from a party at the house of a rich man next door and something in K˘bŕ snaps. He starts to dance madly around, doing the dance from the theatre of the ghost of Tomomori with a ragged broom in place of a magnificent halbard. This scene is the highlight of the play and is a virtuoso test of the actor's skills.
  • Terakoya: Genz˘ and his wife Tonami run a small school and are protecting Kan Sh˘j˘'s son and heir, saying that he is their son. However, word has gotten out Kan Sh˘j˘'s son is there and Genz˘ has been ordered to behead him. Moreover, Matsu˘maru is to come to inspect the head. Their only alternative is to kill one of the other students as a substitute, but all of the students are farmer's children who could never pass for the son of a court aristocrat. However, a new boy arrives that day and Genz˘ makes the terrible decision to kill him in the place of his lord. As it turns out, Matsu˘maru has sent his own son to be sacrificed, because of his family's long loyalty to Kan Sh˘j˘. But he must face the most terrible situation for a father, inspecting the head of his own son and lying when he says that it is the genuine head of the son of Kan Sh˘j˘. Finally Matsu˘maru reveals his true feelings to Genz˘ and he and his wife Chiyo mourn their dead son. Starring Nakamura Kanzabur˘ as Matsu˘maru, Ichikawa Ebiz˘ as Genz˘, Nakamura Fukusuke as Chiyo and Nakamura Kantar˘ as Tonami.
  • Awa Mochi:
    (Millet Dumpling Peddlers)
    There are many dances that show peddlers and other sights that you might have seen on the streets of old Edo. This short, energetic dance accompanied by the Tokiwazu style of music features a pair making and selling millet dumplings on the streets of Edo. Starring Band˘ Mitsugor˘ and Nakamura Hashinosuke.
  • Furu Amerika-ni Sode-ha Nurasaji:
    ("My Sleeves Will Never Be Wet With the Rain of America")
    This is a modern play written by the novelist Ariyoshi Sawako (1931~1984) for the great modern actress Sugimura Haruko (1906~1997) who created the role of the drinking, chattering Osono who makes up stories to escape a tight situation and finds that she is trapped by her lies. After Sugimura's death, the play was performed by many other performers, most notably by Band˘ Tamasabur˘ in a cast featuring actresses and actors from other genres. This marks the first time that this modern play will be transformed into Kabuki. The play is set during the final days of the Edo period as there were tense relations between Japanese and foreigners. A geisha named Kiyű (Nakamura Shichinosuke) is beautiful, but she is sickly and steadily moves downward until she comes to a teahouse that is especially for foreigners. There she encounters her old friend Osono (Band˘ Tamasabur˘) who has also fallen in the world because of her failures caused by drink. Alone and despondent, Kiyű commits suicide and on the spur of the moment, Osono explains it away by saying that Kiyű decided to die rather than serve the foreign barbarians. Unfortunately, this becomes a famous story and Osono tells the heroic story of Kiyű night after night with more and more elaborate embellishments including Kiyű's death poem in which she declares that she will "never let her sleeves get wet with the American rain." But eventually, Osono's lies catch up with her.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    National Theatre (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 3 ~ 26 December 2007
    Program

    Horibe Yahŕ

    Shimizu Ikkaku

    Matsuura no Taiko

    Casting

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

    Comments

    Three Plays About the Ak˘ R˘shi Vendetta:

    December is the month in which in 1702, the former retainers of the lord of Ak˘ avenged their lordĺs death by killing the man their lord tried to kill. It was dramatized in "Kanadehon Chűshingura" ("The Treasury of Loyal Retainers"), first performed in the Bunraku puppet theatre in 1748, probably the most famous play in the repertory of Bunraku and Kabuki. "Chűshingura" is based on a historical incident in which a samurai lord attacked a senior official of the Shogunate within the Sh˘gunĺs palace and was immediately sentenced to commit ritual suicide and his domain confiscated. After a year of hardship, forty-seven of his former retainers attacked and killed the official that their lord tried to kill, avenging his death. The incident was a sensation at the time because it showed that even after a century of peace, the warrior values of loyalty on which the Tokugawa state and society were supposedly based were still alive and well. Because of censorship in the Edo Period, the play was set in the distant past and characters had thinly disguised names, for example, in the Edo theatre, head retainer ďishi Kuranosuke is known as ďboshi Yuranosuke, his lord Asano Takumi-no-Kami is known as En'ya Hangan and the man they attacked, Kira K˘zukenosuke is known as K˘ no Moron˘. But the craze for plays about the incident didnĺt end with "Chűshingura" and there were many plays showing the stories of various people involved in the incident. In December at the National Theatre there will be three plays, old and new, that show the incident from the point of view of the participants, the men who fought on the side of the victim and interested bystanders.

  • Horibe Yahŕ: a play by the modern playwright Uno Nobuo (1904~1993) originally written in 1939 for Nakamura Kichiemon I. It tells the story of Horibe Yahŕ (Nakamura Kichiemon), the oldest member of the vendetta who was a senior official in the Edo mansion of the clan. But the play begins fifteen years before the attack. Yahei and his wife are mourning the death of their son and happen by as a masterless samurai named Nakayama Yasubŕ (Nakamura Kash˘) valiantly fights in a vendetta at Takadanobaba. The play follows Horibe Yahŕ as he tries to get Yasubŕ to become his adopted son and ends on the day of the vendetta as Yasubŕ marries Yaheiĺs daughter and finally takes Yaheiĺs name to become Horibe Yasubŕ, one of the most famous members of the vendetta.
  • Shimizu Ikkaku: Shimizu Ikkaku was famous for being one of the most valiant fighters on the side of Kira K˘zuke-no-Suke, the enemy of the Ak˘ retainers. This play by Kawatake Mokuami, the last great playwright of Kabuki, was written in 1873. It shows Ikkaku (Ichikawa Somegor˘) who drinks and is belligerent and crashes a party held by his fellow guard Makiyama J˘zaemon (Nakamura Karoku) on a snowy winter night. The others insist that the Ak˘ retainers will not attack on such a cold night, but Ikkaku insists that they must be alert and argues drunkenly with everyone. He refuses to listen to the advice of his older sister (Nakamura Shibajaku), but then the sound of a signal drum is heard. Ikkaku is reconciled with Makiyama and they go to fight to defend their master Kira.
  • 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.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

     
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