Top bunraku artist ensures his master's name lives on

Stage Mar 25, 2015

Top bunraku artist ensures his master's name lives on

by Ayako Takahashi

Traditional Japanese puppetry, known as bunraku, has its roots in 17th-century Osaka, but in the following century a variant emerged in which, rather than a puppet being handled by just one person, three performers working together operated each puppet in a play's cast. In this ...

All change for Kanze noh theater

Stage Mar 18, 2015

All change for Kanze noh theater

by Ayako Takahashi

Of Japan's many traditional performing arts, noh is the most refined — and among its most prominent figures today is 55-year-old Kiyokazu Kanze, the 26th head of its largest faction, the Kanze School. A descendant of the father and son pair Kan'ami and Zeami who ...

Language no barrier to 'The River'

Stage Feb 18, 2015

Language no barrier to 'The River'

by Natsume Date

Playwright and director Go Aoki is one of today's many leading dramatists who emerged through the shōgekijō (small-scale youth theater) movement of the 1980s-2000s Though he founded his theater troupe Gring in 1997, and with it specialized in detailed and realistic conversational plays, he also ...

Roppongi Kabuki cites sci-fi, punk

Stage Jan 28, 2015

Roppongi Kabuki cites sci-fi, punk

by Ayako Takahashi

Known for its nightlife, its fleets of Ferraris and condos with sky-high prices, the affluent central Tokyo district of Roppongi will soon go where even that multinational neighborhood has never gone before — when the launch of a program named Roppongi Kabuki will see ...

Young gun Kinoshita takes aim at tradition

Stage Jan 28, 2015

Young gun Kinoshita takes aim at tradition

by Mana Katsura

Though for more than 300 years it's only been performed by men and boys, kabuki exists in the public imagination as actors engulfed in hair and makeup, wearing elaborate costumes and striking ostentatious poses on a vast stage. Despite this, works by the Kinoshita Kabuki ...

Ichiyanagi opera aims to be 'total work of art'

Stage Jan 14, 2015

Ichiyanagi opera aims to be 'total work of art'

by Ayako Takahashi

As part of its 40th-anniversary celebrations, Kanagawa Kenmin Hall in Yokohama will stage a world-premier version of "Legend of the Water Flame," an opera by the renowned composer Toshi Ichiyanagi that's scored around a libretto by a fellow octogenarian, the poet Makoto Ooka. "Opera has ...

Star Belgian choreographer celebrates manga and more

Stage Jan 7, 2015

Star Belgian choreographer celebrates manga and more

by Natsume Date

"Tokyo, my brother, my protector" was the tweet posted by Belgian-born Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui — often dubbed "the busiest choreographer in the world" — straight after he arrived here two months ago. Explaining in a recent interview with this writer what had prompted so fulsome ...

'Entrance/Exit' shows the way for new arts fest

Stage Dec 17, 2014

'Entrance/Exit' shows the way for new arts fest

by Natsume Date

Bulging like a half moon out into the Seto Inland Sea from Kyushu's northeast corner, the Kunisaki Peninsula in Oita Prefecture may be remote and lack rail links to the rest of the country, but since time immemorial it has been a crossroads for ...

Sarajevo's fine MESS shines light from yet more darkness

Stage Nov 26, 2014

Sarajevo's fine MESS shines light from yet more darkness

by Natsume Date

This year is the centenary of the outbreak of World War I, and among commemorations worldwide, in Sarajevo, in present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina, there have been numerous events marking the June 28, 1914 assassination there of the Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife ...

Chasing a Phantom of success

Stage Mar 26, 2014

Chasing a Phantom of success

by Natsume Date

Based on "Le Fantôme de l'Opéra," a 1911 novel by the French author of detective fiction, Gaston Leroux, and transformed into a musical composed, co-written and produced by Englishman Andrew Lloyd Webber (now Baron Lloyd-Webber), "The Phantom of the Opera" was first produced in ...

Super Kabuki 'spells fun'

Stage Mar 12, 2014

Super Kabuki 'spells fun'

by Natsume Date

Just like the many native English-speakers who have difficulty understanding the language and classical references in the works of William Shakespeare, so Japanese people generally feel a sense of distance from kabuki, as though it were a foreign language. However, Ennosuke Ichikawa III, who is ...