I hadn’t seen this 1952 classic in years, but with Miyamoto Amon’s Broadway-aimed musical version set to debut (in Japanese) next week, I figured it was time for a revisit. It didn’t strike me as an obvious choice for musicalization given the halting communication skills of the main character, who is not exactly Mr. Excitement, and I wondered how they could top the haunting “Gondola no Uta” that the man sings on the swing in the iconic finale. First, a look at the film.
- Noh: 松虫、浮舟、乱 (Matsumushi, Ukifune, Midare)
9/9/18 (Sun), National Noh Theatre
I hadn’t seen any of these, the first two being rarities and the last a non-standard version of the well-known Shojo. The themes today seemed to be autumn and alcohol.
- Bunraku: 良弁杉由来、増補忠臣蔵 (Roben and the Cedar Tree, Zoho Chushingura)
9/15/18 (Sat), Tokyo
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration, and the National Theatre is featuring two productions from that era. After an astounding period of creativity, Bunraku had pretty much halted as a living art in the 18th century, and not many pieces were being written at this point. Whereas the Kabuki world was undertaking some dramatic experiments incorporating Western concepts, these puppet pieces stay safely within the bounds of their predecessors — which is fine when done as well as it is here. Continue reading
9/12/18 (Wed), Tokyo Kabukiza
All the shows in this month’s evening performance were pieces derived from ancient Noh theater: Sanbaso, a comic take on the austere Okina; the great Shunkan, Chikamatsu Monzaemon’s brash reworking of the old drama; and a new dance piece by National Living Treasure Tamasaburo based on the classics Hagoromo, Shakkyo and Dojoji.
A 1954 film by Heinosuke Gosho set in contemporary Osaka. Continue reading
An unforgiving 1961 satire of Japanese society by the ever-radical Nagisa Oshima based on a story by Oe Kenzaburo. Continue reading
- Kabuki: 盟三五大切 (Kamikakete Sango Taisetsu)
8/20/18 (Mon), Tokyo
The full-length version of Tsuruya Nanboku’s popular piece. Continue reading