Setagaya Public Theatre (SEPT), Japan’s foremost municipal arts venue, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
Since the theater brought in 41-year-old kyogen star Mansai Nomura as artistic director in 2002, besides its usual contemporary-theater stagings, it has also showcased several noh and kyogen programs — some in their original form and some re-created in new, contemporary ways that have drawn more fans to these traditional genres.
Fittingly, then, for its special 10th-anniversary lineup, SEPT will repeat 2003’s acclaimed modern noh program “Aoi/Komachi,” which will be directed by 48-year-old Takeshi Kawamura.
The original plays on which these are based — the 15th-century “Aoinoue” and “Sotoba Komachi” — were written by the noh masters Zeami and Kanami, but were then reworked in the 1950s by the famed and ill-fated nationalist author Yukio Mishima. Kawamura rewrote the plays in 2003 especially for SEPT with a younger generation in mind, drawing inspiration, he said, both from the originals and Mishima’s versions.
In “Aoi,” the good-looking playboy Hikaru Genji morphs into a fascinating and charismatic hairdresser who is drawn into a mad love triangle with young Aoi and the ghost of his ex-lover, the magnetic and sensual middle-aged woman Rokujo.
In “Komachi,” top butoh dancer Akira Kasai plays the female role of Komachi (reminiscent of Onono Komachi, a famous Heian Period beauty and poet), elegantly expressing her mysterious charms in dance with imaginative video-projection effects.
“‘Aoi/Komachi” runs April 11-15 (times vary) at Setagaya Public Theatre, a 2-minute walk from Sangenjaya Station on the Denentoshi or Setagaya lines. Tickets are 2,000-6,000 yen yen (call the SEPT Ticket Center at  5432-1515).
For more information, visit www.setagaya-ac.or.jp/sept
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