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Review: January 2019 New Year Kabuki: Part Two – Asakusa Kokaido Public Hall and the Kabukiza

February 2, 2019 Leave a comment

Part two of a two part review!

Kabuki 2019 reviewAsakusa Kokaidō Public Hall Shinshun New Year Kabuki

The matinee kicked off with an Otoshidama – Nenshi Goaisatsu, a special kōjō (ceremony), for new year greetings during which one of the company appears on stage, on this occasion Onoe Matsuya, dressed in formal Edo era attire during which he described some of the conventions of Kabuki, highlights to watch out for in the upcoming performances and which are his favourite local hang outs.

…and of course the ever popular famous thief Ishikawa Goemon made his appearance with the first performance of the matinee in the very entertaining Edo style dance drama ‘Modorikago Iro ni Aikata’ (The Returning Palanquin). The two palanquin bearers, Yoshirō (Nakamura Tanenosuke), the chic one who is Read more…

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Review: January 2019 New Year Kabuki: Part One – Shinbashi Enbujo and the National Theatre of Japan

January 26, 2019 1 comment

Part one of a two-part review.

Shinbashi Enbujo

new year kabuki at the shinbashi enbujo january 2019 mini posterThe first performance of the afternoon was ‘Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura’, (Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees), one of the three most popular plays of the Kabuki repertoire (which includes ‘Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy’, and ‘Chūshingura: The Treasury of Loyal Retainers’). The particular act of the play performed was ‘Torii Mae’, (Before the Gate of the Fushimi Inari Shrine). This part of the play focuses on the story of how Shizuka Gozen (Otani Hiromatsu) the lover of Minamoto Yoshitsune (Otani Tomaemon) who is following Yoshitsune on his flight from his older brother Yoritomo, is restrained in her attempts to follow Yoshitsune. To restrain his lover Shizuka Yoshitsune enlists the help of his retainer Satō Tadanobu (Nakamura Shidō) who is in fact not the real Tadanobu but is indeed a magical fox. As a fairly standard and very popular act from Read more…

Review: Tokyo Year End Kabuki – December 2018

January 18, 2019 2 comments

Two reviews in one.

national theatre december 2018 mini poster resizeThere were two main Tōkyō theatres holding end of year performances in December 2018. The National Theatre of Japan in Hanzōmon and the Kabukiza in Higashi Ginza, and a lucky attendance on the final auspicious day or senshūraku (lit. music of a thousand autumns, an old entertainment industry term for the final day of a performance run) at the Kabukiza andas a result was a full house.

The December 2018 Kabuki at the National Theatre of Japan was the Tōshi Kyōgen (full length play) Zoho Futatsu Domoe (The New and Improved Story of the Read more…

Review: Shochiku Grand Kabuki – Salle Jean Vilar

September 19, 2018 3 comments

Théâtre National de Chaillot, Paris, France, 13 – 19 September 2018

Japonismes Theatre de ChaillotJaponismes 2018: les âmes en résonance’ (souls in resonance) is a celebration of Japanese culture taking part in Paris and other cities in France to mark 160 years of friendship between France and Japan. As part of the celebrations two Kabuki actors, Nakamura Shidō II and Nakamura Shichinosuke II (whose grandfather Nakamura Kanzaburō XVII was one of the first Kabuki actors to perform Kabuki in Paris at Read more…

Review: Ehon Gappō ga Tsuji

 

Evening performance of the Grand April Kabuki at the Kabukiza Theatre, Tōkyō: 2 April – 26 April 2018.

Ehon Gappo ga Tsuji poster croppedEhon Gappō ga Tsuji (’The Revenge of Gappō at the Crossroads’) is a ‘kizewamono’ (gangster play) which premiered in the 5th lunar month of 1810 at the Ichimuraza Theatre in Edo (modern day Tōkyō). Dramatised by Tsuruya Namboku IV from a popular novel this rarely performed full length play (toshi kyōgen) was last staged in April 2012 at the National Theatre in Tōkyō with, as in this performance, the 74 year old veteran Read more…

Theatre Review: Ninagawa Company ‘Macbeth’.

October 13, 2017 Leave a comment

 

Presented by the Barbican in association with Thelma Holt, Saitama Arts Foundation and HoriPro Inc

macebth barbican.jpgCo-produced by The Japan Foundation

Barbican, London 5-8 October

Theatre Royal, Plymouth 13-14 October

After Yukio Ninagawa’s death nearly a year and a half ago in May 2016 his ‘Ninagawa Macbeth’ (and this is the only one of his Shakespearean productions he allowed to use his name) returned to London this year after a thirty year absence for a memorial run at the Barbican in London and the Theatre Royal in Plymouth with the help, amongst others, of Read more…

Review: The Old Jōruri Puppet Play ‘The Tale Of The High Priest Kōchi’

June 13, 2017 2 comments

Performance was held on 2nd and 3rd June 2017 at the British Library.

London performamce small format croppedThe evening, attended by around 250 people, opened with a welcome from Mana Takatori, the Director General of the Japan Foundation, and Hamish Todd, the Head of East Asian Collections at the British Library. Then Professor Torigoe Bunzō described how the manuscript was discovered and how valuable it is given that it is the only extant original copy.

In 1962, when at the time he was a Professor at Waseda University, Torigoe Bunzō was teaching at Cambridge University and Read more…

Spring and New Year Kabuki in Tōkyō – Part Two National Theatre of Japan and Asakusa Kōkaidō

February 11, 2017 5 comments

The second and final part of a selection of Kabuki plays in review!

kabuki-postersApart from the performances at the Shinbashi Enbujo and the Kabukiza there were two other theatres also putting on New Year-Spring performances.

A Tōshi Kyōgen was performed at the National Theatre of Japan and there were two, matinee and evening, Shinshun Read more…

Review: Spring and New Year Kabuki in Tōkyō – Part One Shinbashi Enbujo and the Kabukiza

February 6, 2017 4 comments

Plays in Review: Futago Sumidagawa, Genpei Nunobiki no Taki – Yoshikata Saigo, Shikorobiki, Shōgun Edo wo Saru, Otsu-e Dōjōji, Igagoe Dochu Sugoroku – Numazu, Matsuura no Taiko

otsu-e-dojoji-goro-ya-no-ne-ichikawa-somegoro-resizeThis year, 2017, to mark the New Year and Spring in Tōkyō seven Kabuki shows were scheduled during January. Matinee and evening performances at the Shinbashi Enbujo, the Kabukiza and the Asakusa Kōkaidō Public Hall, and a Tōshi Kyōgen, full length play, at the National Theatre of Japan.

There were two Tōshi Kyōgen included in the New Year/Spring Read more…

Yago no Kai (Yajūrō–Shingo Company) European Tour 2016

A great introduction to an art which is still able to reach an overseas audience!

KabukiIn Paris the Yago no Kai Kabuki Company’s performances took place in the Grande salle, the 300 seater theatre, at the Maison de la Culture du Japon à Paris (May 12-14).

Two other European countries are scheduled on their whistle-stop tour this May, in Switzerland at La salle Théodore Turrettini at the Bâtiment des Forces Motrices in Geneva (May 17 & 18), and in Spain Kabuki returns for the first time since 1987, after an Read more…

Book Review: Japanese Plays – Classic Noh, Kyogen And Kabuki Works

April 28, 2016 5 comments

Nothing reflects the beauty of life as much as Japanese theatre!

Japanese PlaysThe original Introduction gives a fairly detailed explanation of Noh, Kyōgen and Kabuki though there isn’t much in the way of explanations of each of the plays’ individual origins, historical context, or development, either in the Introduction or in the rest of the book at the beginning of each play, the intention perhaps to preserve the book in its original form. It would however perhaps have been helpful to provide some sort of reference material in say a selective bibliography, even if only for the most important plays.

Although this isn’t provided in the book’s current form research on the Internet would make it relatively easy to cross reference the plays on line to find more information even if the Internet is something that wasn’t available when the book was originally published in 1934. For example Read more…

Theatre Review: Ninagawa Company – ‘Hamlet’ (Hamuretto) By William Shakespeare

June 10, 2015 1 comment

Yukio Ninagawa directs his best-loved play!

Ninagawa Hamlet May 2015Ninagawa Company – ‘Hamlet’ (Hamuretto) by William Shakespeare 21-24 May 2015 at the Barbican, supported by Thelma Holt Ltd., Saitama Arts Foundation and HoriPro Inc.

Inspired as a celebration and appreciation of his involvement in International Relations, Ninagawa’s 80th birthday this year is being celebrated under the banner Read more…

Theatre Review: ‘Kaidan Chibusa no Enoki’ (The Ghost Tale Of The Wet Nurse Tree)

July 17, 2014 3 comments

The Heisei Nakamura-za company performs Kabuki at the Lincoln Centre Festival, NYC!

Heisei Nakamura-za Photo by ShochikuThe Lincoln Centre Festival performance of the Kabuki play ‘Kaidan Chibusa no Enoki’ (The Ghost Tale of the Wet Nurse Tree) took place in NYC from 7th – 12th July 2014 at the Rose Theatre. Having inherited the dream of their father Nakamura Kanzaburō XVIII, who sadly passed away in December 2012, the performance run was dedicated to him by his sons Nakamura Kankurō VI and Nakamura Shichinosuke II. Kanzaburō helped establish the Heisei Nakamuraza, a portable Read more…

An English translation of ‘Meiji Gekidan: Ranpu No Moto Ni Te’ (Talks On Meiji Era Theatre: Under The Lamp) By Okamoto Kidō

April 14, 2014 2 comments

Translation was undertaken for Kabuki fans who are unable to read Japanese!

Okamoto KidoBorn October 15th 1872 to Okamoto Keinosuke (a samurai retainer of the Tokugawa Shōgunate who, after the Meiji Restoration, went to work for the British Legation as an interpreter) Okamoto Kidō is best known outside of Japan for his mystery novel ‘The Curious Casebook of Inspector Hanshichi’. His family were avid Kabuki fans and well-connected in the theatre world. Though Kidō announced his intention at an early age to become a Kabuki playwright as a consequence of his father’s bankruptcy he had to skip University and Read more…

Art Exhibition: Kabuki – Japanese Theatre Prints

November 11, 2013 3 comments

Come face to face with Kabuki theatre’s most famous characters!

Miya, from the series Tokaido gojusan-tsugi no uchiVenue: National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

Date: 4th October 2013 – 2nd February 2014

The opening up of Japan to the rest of the world after Commodore Perry’s 1853 visit sparked a craze in the West for Japanese art and design. Called Japonisme it began in the late 1850s and peaked with and after what is considered by some the most pivotal event in the history of Japanese art in the West; the exhibition of Sir Rutherford Alcock’s collection of Read more…

2nd Installment From Okamoto Kido’s Talks On Meiji Era Theatre – Under The Lamp

March 2, 2013 1 comment

Part 14:  The scene at the opening of the new Kabukiza!

Danjurio IX as Komon Mitsukuni 1895 OK part 14Kabuza Gossip – ‘Heart Warming Historical Tales of Kōmon’ (Zokusetsu Bidan Kōmon Ki) — Scholar, Amateur Kabuki Dramatist and Journalist Fukuchi Ōchi — The Appearance of Kabukiza Banzuke advertising posters – ‘The Fire Brigade Fight’ (Megumi no Kenka).

After the Great Earthquake disaster (of 1923) the appearance of the Kabukiza theatre building was once again anticipated. Also a large part of the Read more…

1st Installment From Okamoto Kido’s Talks On Meiji Era Theatre – Under The Lamp

February 11, 2013 2 comments

Part 14 The Scene at the opening of the new Kabukiza!

Zokusetsu Bidan Komon ki OK part 14Kabuza Gossip – ‘Heart Warming Historical Tales of Kōmon’ (Zokusetsu Bidan Kōmon Ki) — Scholar, Amateur Kabuki Dramatist and Journalist Fukuchi Ōchi — The Appearance of Kabukiza Banzuke advertising posters – ‘The Fire Brigade Fight’ (Megumi no Kenka) Read more…

Theatre Review: Anjin: The Shogun And The English Samurai

February 9, 2013 9 comments

A lavish three-hour stage production of the relationship between William Adams and Shogun to be Tokugawa Ieyasu!

Anjin - The Shogun and the English SamuraiOn the 12th April 1600, some six months before the battle of Sekigahara took place on 20th October that same year, the first Englishman to step foot in Japan, William Adams (Stephen Boxer), arrived off the coast of the Japanese province of Bungo in the Dutch ship the Liefde. It was a combination of these events which, that year, brought together and changed the fortunes of two men; William Adams, a maritime pilot from Gillingham, and the Shōgun to be Tokugawa Ieyasu (Masachika Ichimura), a descendant of the Minamoto and the wealthiest Daimyō (Lord) in Japan at Read more…

Interview: Producer Thelma Holt – Anjin: The Shogun and the English Samurai

January 30, 2013 6 comments

“The influence of Japanese theatre has been and is tremendous!”  Thelma Holt

Thelma Holt profile photoThelma Holt CBE began a long and distinguished theatre career as an actress. She then founded the Open Space Theatre in Tottenham and has worked for the Roundhouse, the National Theatre and the Peter Hall Company. She went on to found her own theatre production company, Thelma Holt Limited. She works with the distinguished Japanese Director Yukio Ninagawa to bring Anglo-Japanese theatre to the Read more…