Medieval kyogen treads modern boards

Feb 18, 2004

Medieval kyogen treads modern boards

Mansai Nomura, the 37-year-old kyogen supremo who has also enjoyed success in contemporary theater and film and TV dramas, is embarking on yet another a new enterprise in Tokyo this month. At Setagaya Public Theater (SEPT) where he is artistic director, Mansai is presenting ...

UNESCO top honor for bunraku puppet theater

Feb 4, 2004

UNESCO top honor for bunraku puppet theater

On Nov. 7, 2003, bunraku was recognized by UNESCO as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage. The award cited the unique nature of Japan’s indigenous puppet theater, and praised the realism with which it portrays human emotions. Bunraku has a long and varied history. Called ...

Seeing double at kabuki new year shows

Jan 21, 2004

Seeing double at kabuki new year shows

Kabuki has made an auspicious start to the Year of the Monkey, with performances at no less than three venues in Tokyo: the Kokaido (Public Hall) in Asakusa, the Kabukiza in Ginza and the National Theater in Hanzomon. Of these, the first two venues ...

A behind-the-scenes drama of noh

Dec 3, 2003

A behind-the-scenes drama of noh

A masterly drama about a master dramatist is playing at the New National Theater in Tokyo through Dec. 21. Bando Mitsugoro, a 47-year-old kabuki actor, takes the title role in “Zeami,” a biographical play about the talented writer-actor-director who, in the early 15th century, ...

Season of 'new faces' sees an old master take a bow

Nov 12, 2003

Season of 'new faces' sees an old master take a bow

This month the Kabukiza, Ginza, is sporting a yagura (turret) on its gabled facade, covered with a blue curtain on which is written “Kyogenzukushi (All kyogen plays).” To those in the know, the turret is announcing the arrival of the annual kaomise (“face-showing”) season. ...

Cynic's view of the sex and the city

Oct 22, 2003

Cynic's view of the sex and the city

One of kabuki’s most prolific playwrights, Tsuruya Nanboku, produced 120 dramas in the last 25 years of his life. This month, the Kabukiza, in Ginza, stages just two of them, a pair of remarkable sewamono (realistic plays) titled “Kamikakete Sango Taisetsu (A Pledge of ...

Son pays tribute to a kabuki master

Sep 17, 2003

Son pays tribute to a kabuki master

The Kabukiza Theater in Ginza is presenting two attractive selections of kabuki plays and dance numbers this month in memory of Nakamura Kichiemon I, who died on Sept. 5, 1954, at age 68. Naturally, Kichiemon’s 59-year-old grandson, who in 1966 adopted the stage name ...

Stars for a day: kabuki initiates in the limelight

Aug 20, 2003

Stars for a day: kabuki initiates in the limelight

For a glimpse of the future of kabuki, make your way this month not to the Kabukiza (where contemporary drama superstar Hideki Noda is reigning supreme, see article below) but to the National Theater, Tokyo. The theater is presenting a special four-hour kabuki program ...

Ennosuke soars with two-in-one tale

Jul 16, 2003

Ennosuke soars with two-in-one tale

For his 33rd annual summer season at the Kabukiza Theater in Ginza, Ichikawa Ennosuke is this month presenting not one but two kabuki classics: “Yotsuya Kaidan (The Ghost Story at Yotsuya)” and “Chushingura (The 47 Loyal Retainers).” There’s a catch, though — he’s fashioned ...

Just two ordinary, everyday heroes

Jun 18, 2003

Just two ordinary, everyday heroes

Amid the violent upheavals of the Warring States Period in Japan from the mid-1500s till the early 17th century, there emerged some chivalrous spirits eager to fight on behalf of unprotected, ordinary people. Such men, who were known as kyokaku or otokodate — “ones ...