JANUARY 2007

5 shows in T˘ky˘ (Kabukiza, National Theatre, Asakusa K˘kaid˘), 2 in ďsaka (Sh˘chikuza) and 1 in Ky˘to (Minamiza)!

Kabukiza (T˘ky˘)
Dates 2 ~ 26 January 2007 (Kotobuki Hatsuharu ďkabuki)
MatinÚe

Sh˘chikubai

Heike Nyogo no Shima (Shunkan)

Kanjinch˘

Rokkasen Sugata no Irodori (Kisen)

Evening

Kuruwa Sanbas˘

Gion Sairei Shink˘ki (Kinkakuji)

Shunky˘ Kagami Jishi

Musume Gonomi Ukina no Yokogushi (Kirare Otomi)

Casting

Band˘ Tamasabur˘, Nakamura Jakuemon, Matsumoto K˘shir˘, Nakamura Kichiemon, Nakamura Kanzabur˘, Nakamura Tomijűr˘, Nakamura Shikan, Nakamura Shibajaku, Ichikawa Sadanji, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Nakamura Baigyoku, Nakamura Kaishun, Kataoka Takatar˘, Nakamura Fukusuke, Nakamura Shinjir˘, Nakamura Karoku, Nakamura Kash˘, Band˘ Yajűr˘, Nakamura T˘z˘, Ichikawa Komaz˘, Nakamura Matsue

Comments

  • Sh˘chikubai: as befits a program for New Years, the program begins with three graceful dances with the younger stars of Kabuki evoking three plants that are regarded as auspicious symbols of prosperity and long life. Featuring Nakamura Baigyoku and Nakamura Hashinosuke commemorating the pine, Nakamura Kash˘, Nakamura Shinjir˘, Nakamura Matsue and Ichikawa Komaz˘ commemorating the bamboo and Nakamura Kaishun, Kataoka Takatar˘ and Nakamura Shibajaku commemorating the plum.
  • Shunkan: the priest Shunkan (Nakamura Kichiemon) has been exiled to Devil's Island for plotting against the dictator Kiyomori. A pardon is given to his fellow conspirators, but Shunkan is only saved by an additional pardon given by Kiyomori's compassionate son. Even so, he gives up his place on the boat to freedom so his companion's new wife can accompany her husband back to the capital. The boat leaves and Shunkan is left watching is disappear in the distance, knowing he will be left on the island forever. Featuring Ichikawa Danshir˘ as the evil emissary Senoo and Nakamura Tomijűr˘ as the merciful envoy Tanzaemon. With Nakamura Fukusuke as the island girl Chidori and Nakamura T˘z˘ as Naritsune, Shunkan's fellow exile who has fallen in love with her.
  • 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 Nakamura Shikan and Nakamura Baigyoku as Yoshitsune and the barrier keeper Togashi.
  • Kisen: "Kisen" is part of a series of dances showing the six poetic geniuses of ancient Japan. The five male poets are all shown as being in love with the sixth, Ono no Komachi, one of the most famous beauties of Japan. The other dances are set in ancient Japan, but this dance suddenly jumps to the Edo period where the poet-priest Kisen wanders intoxicated by the beauties of the cherry blossoms and of Okaji, a tea stand waitress. Starring Nakamura Kanzabur˘ as Kisen and Band˘ Tamasabur˘ as Okaji.
  • Kuruwa Sanbas˘: the sanbas˘ is an auspicious dance based on the ritual play Okina in the classical theater which shows an old man as a symbol of longevity and the energetic sanbas˘ as a symbol of fertility and prosperity. In Kabuki there are many different versions, but this particular one sets the dance in the pleasure quarters and has a beautiful top-ranking courtesan in place of the old man and a taiko mochi entertainer instead of the boisterous sanbas˘. To celebrate the New Year, this dance features Living National Treasures Nakamura Jakuemon as the courtesan and Nakamura Tomijűr˘ as the taiko mochi. Also featuring Nakamura Kaishun, Nakamura Shibajaku and Kataoka Takatar˘.
  • Kinkakuji: "Kinkakuji" retains the epic scale of plays adapted from the Bunraku puppet theater and is full of miracles and larger-than-life characters common on the puppet stage. It is full of the classical forms of all kinds of stylized characters and the role of Princess Yuki is considered to be one of the most difficult and beautiful roles for an onnagata female role specialist. Matsunaga Daizen (Matsumoto K˘shir˘) has defeated the Sh˘gun and has set up base in the Golden Pavilion. The brilliant strategist Hisayoshi, disguised as a disgruntled retainer named T˘kichi (Nakamura Kichiemon), pretends to come under Daizen's employ to try to sabotage his plans from within. Princess Yuki (Band˘ Tamasabur˘) is being held prisoner by Daizen, but is able to free herself by drawing a mouse in the cherry petals of the tree that she is tied to. It comes to life and chews the ropes holding her. Starring the best of the actors in their prime in a production sure to be full of fire and excitement.
  • Kagami Jishi: one of the most important dances for onnagata female role specialists and is an audience favorite. The maidservant Yayoi performs an auspicious lion dance for the Sh˘gun in his opulent palace, but she gradually finds herself under the control of the lion spirit. In the second half of the dance, the lion spirit itself appears and performs its crazed dance among peonies and fluttering butterflies. Starring Nakamura Kanzabur˘ as both Yayoi and the spirit of the lion in a dance that he has made his own.
  • Kirare Otomi: there are many plays in Kabuki that take some famous classic and change it around so that a very masculine character becomes a female character with both the strength of the original and a feminine delicacy and grace. The story of scarfaced Yosabur˘ is popular in Kabuki. Yosabur˘ is the handsome young son of a wealthy family, but he falls in love with Otomi, the mistress of a gang boss and ends up being cut up and tossed overboard at sea, together with Otomi. He survives, terribly scarred, and becomes a criminal. He goes to blackmail a woman who seems to be kept by a wealthy merchant only to discover that it is Otomi. In this version, it is Otomi that is scarred and who becomes a blackmailer. Starring Nakamura Fukusuke as Otomi, Nakamura Karoku as the gang boss and Nakamura Hashinosuke as Yosabur˘.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    Sh˘chikuza (ďsaka)
    Dates 2 ~ 26 January 2007 (Kotobuki Hatsuharu ďkabuki)
    MatinÚe

    Hikosan Gongen Chikai no Sukedachi (Keya-mura)

    Kanjinch˘

    Koi Bikyaku Yamato ďrai (Fűin Giri)

    Evening

    Kenuki

    Kanadehon Chűshingura
    (Yamashina Kankyo)

    Fuji Musume

    Tomo Yakko

    Casting

    Ichikawa Danjűr˘, Sakata T˘jűr˘, Ichikawa Ebiz˘, Nakamura Kanjaku, Nakamura Senjaku, Kataoka Gat˘, Kataoka Hidetar˘, Kataoka Shinnosuke

    Comments

  • Keya-mura: Rokusuke (Nakamura Kanjaku), a sword master who lives a simple country life, is taking care of a small foundling child. He hangs the boy's kimono outside his house in the hope that the boy's relatives will see it and know where he is. One day he finds himself attacked by a woman named Osono (Nakamura Senjaku) who turns out to be the aunt of the child. As they talk, they find that they are in fact linked by promises of marriage although they have never met directly. Osono is searching for the killer of her father, Rokusuke's master, and Rokusuke promises to help in her vendetta.
  • 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 Ichikawa Danjűr˘ in the role of Benkei, with Sakata T˘jűr˘ and Ichikawa Ebiz˘ as Yoshitsune and the barrier keeper Togashi.
  • Fűin Giri:
    (Breaking the Seals)
    In the pleasure quarters, the most important possessions were money and reputation. In danger of losing his lover, the courtesan Umegawa, the money courier Kameya Chűbŕ breaks the seals on a package of money entrusted to him after being taunted by a rival, even though the use of such money is punishable by death. Starring Living National Treasure Sakata T˘jűr˘ as Chűbŕ, Kataoka Hidetar˘ as Umegawa, Kataoka Gat˘ as Chűbŕ treacherous friend Tanbaya Hachiemon and Kamimura Kichiya as Oen, the proprietress of the teahouse.
  • Kenuki: in this play, which retains the light, festive atmosphere of early-period Kabuki, a princess has a mysterious ailment that makes her hair stand on end, an ailment that prevents her from carrying out her long-awaited marriage. Kumedera Danj˘ comes from the groom's household to investigate and finds a plot to take over the household when his tweezers float in mid-air. Ichikawa Ebiz˘ stars in a play that features the bombastic aragoto style of acting that is a specialty of his family.
  • Yamashina Kankyo: this is an act of the epic play based on a sensational incident in the early 17th century. Lord En'ya Hangan's attack on the senior official K˘ no Moron˘ affected people even outside his own household. When Honz˘, the senior retainer of another lord, stopped En'ya from killing Moron˘, he thought that he was doing a good thing. But his actions earned him the scorn of Enya's retainers and brought personal tragedy to his daughter who was engaged to Rikiya, the son of Yuranosuke, En'ya's head retainer. The scene shows the tragedy as it affects Honz˘'s wife and daughter and how ultimately Honz˘ sacrifices his life to atone for his misjudgement. Starring Kataoka Gat˘ as Honz˘, Living National Treasure Sakata T˘jűr˘ as his wife Tonase and Nakamura Senjaku as his daughter Konami, with Ichikawa Danjűr˘ as Yuranosuke, Kataoka Hidetar˘ as his wife Oishi and Nakamura Kanjaku as his son Rikiya.
  • 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 Senjaku.
  • 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 Nakamura Kanjaku in the role of the yakko.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

    National Theatre (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 3 ~ 27 January 2007 (Hatsuharu ďkabuki)
    Program

    Ume no Haru Gojűsan Tsugi

    Casting

    Onoe Kikugor˘, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Band˘ Mitsugor˘, Onoe Kikunosuke, Band˘ Hikosabur˘, Onoe Sh˘roku

    Comments

    Continuing its celebration of its fortieth anniversary, the National Theatre will do the first production of a kabuki play in 166 years, a play full of chills and thrills and wild spectacle. In 1827, when audiences went to see "Hitori Tabi Gojűsan Tsugi" (Traveling Alone to the Fifty-three Stations), by the famous playwright Tsuruya Nanboku IV (1755~1829) they expected a Kabuki version of the bestselling comic novel about the adventures of Yaji and Kita on the road. What they got instead was a spectacular series of scenes scary, sexy and comic reworking all Nanboku's favorite themes including a monstrous cat and changing one of the most famous mother and son couples in Kabuki, keeping the names but changing what they do drastically, transforming them into a pair of adult lovers. The play was a long-running hit and inspired many plays with spectacular scenic effects.

    In 1835, a group of playwrights including Nanboku's son, Tsuruya Nanboku V reworked this play, keeping the monstrous cat but adding a renegade priest who mastered rat magic and a famous thief named Nezumi Koz˘ ("Kid Rat"). Then they worked old Tsuruya Nanboku's transformative magic on the passionate grocer's daughter Oshichi, making her into Sayoginu Oshichi and bringing the handsome young samurai Shirai Gonpachi and his lover, the courtesan Komurasaki, into the mix as well. The play starred Onoe Kikugor˘ III (1784~1849) and featured the ghosts and stage tricks that he had developed with Tsuruya Nanboku that had made his career.

    In January 2007 at the National Theatre, Living National Treasure Onoe Kikugor˘ will revive this version of the play for the first time and challenge himself with the spectacular scenes and famous roles from the earliest times of his family's acting tradition. Also starring Living National Treasure Sawamura Tanosuke, Band˘ Hikosabur˘, Nakamura Tokiz˘, Band˘ Mitsugor˘, Onoe Sh˘roku and Onoe Kikunosuke.

    Source: Earphone Guide website

    Asakusa K˘kaid˘ (T˘ky˘)
    Dates 2 ~ 26 January 2007 (Hatsuharu Hanagata Kabuki)
    MatinÚe

    Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura (Sushiya)

    Migawari Zazen

    Evening

    Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura

  • Tokaiya
  • Funayagura
  • Daimotsu no Ura
  • Migawari Zazen

    Casting

    Nakamura Shid˘, Kataoka Ainosuke, Ichikawa Omez˘, Nakamura Kantar˘, Nakamura Shid˘, Nakamura Kikaku

    Comments

    The yearly show for young promising actors at the Asakusa K˘kaid˘ in the heart of Asakusa, a lively and colorful neighboorhood that keeps the scent of old Edo.

    Minamiza (Ky˘to)
    Dates 3 ~ 25 January 2007 (Zenshinza K˘en)
    Program

    Gojű no T˘

    K˘j˘

    Shin Sarayashiki Tsuki no Amagasa
    (Sakanaya S˘gor˘)

    Casting

    Nakamura Umenosuke, Kawarasaki Kunitar˘, Arashi Keishi, Nakamura Baijaku, Fujikawa Yanosuke, Segawa Kikunoj˘, Arashi Hiroya

    Comments

  • Gojű no T˘: a dramatization of the classic story by K˘da Rohan. This play shows the rivalry between the slow Jűbŕ (???) and sophisticated Genta (???) 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.
  • 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.
  • Sakanaya S˘gor˘: S˘gor˘ (Nakamura Baijaku), a fish seller, has taken a vow to not drink, but when he learns about his sister's unjust murder at the hands of a daimy˘ lord, a death that they were told was execution for her wrongdoing, he starts to drink again. Drunk, he storms into the lord's mansion to seek an apology. This play by Meiji playwright Kawatake Mokuami is known for its realistic portrayal of members of the common class during the Edo period and highlights their fierce pride and frustration at the privileges of the dominant samurai class.
  • Source: Earphone Guide website

     
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