In search of the perfect swindle

Apr 14, 2004

In search of the perfect swindle

Cherry trees bloom on the Kabukiza stage all year round, but this month, as befits hanami season, they’re particularly spectacular. That’s not surprising, because “Shiranami Gonin Otoko (The Five Shiranami Men)” by Kawatake Mokuami (1816-93), was inspired by ukiyo-e prints by the renowned Utagawa ...

Three's a (talented) crowd

Mar 17, 2004

Three's a (talented) crowd

The Kabukiza in Ginza celebrates the arrival of spring with two excellent programs this month, including a striking dance number titled “Dattan” inspired by the fiery Buddhist rite of the same name held every March at Todaiji Temple in Nara. Even more likely to ...

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 ...