August Grand Kabuki
YUREI KASHIYA (Rent a Ghost)
Yamamoto Shugoro (1903 - 1967) is known for his touching stories of nameless commoners in the Edo Period striving to live meaningful lives against impossible odds. But this particular story is an outrageous comedy about Yaroku (Mitsugoro), a barrel maker who is so lazy that his loving wife Okane (Takataro) leaves him until he decides to work. But one day, a sexy, vengeful ghost named Someji (Fukusuke) falls in love with him. They spend night after night drinking together, but finally, to make ends meet, they decide to start a business renting out vengeful ghosts, which is when Yaroku's troubles really begin. Also featuring Kanzaburo and Shichinosuke.
SHINPAN SHITAKIRI SUZUME (New Version: The Tongue-Cut Sparrow)
An old man and woman had no children, so he cherished a pet sparrow. One day, when the old man was out, the sparrow ate all the starch the old woman had prepared for starching clothes, so she cut his tongue out and chased him away. The old man was very upset and set out the next day to find the sparrow, undergoing all kinds of unpleasant trials. He found the sparrow who treated him extremely kindly and gave him a choice of a small or large box. The old man modestly picked a small box and when he returned, he found it full of gold coins. The greedy old woman decided to go to see the sparrow as well, but picked the large box, only to find it full of snakes, spiders and other horrible creatures.
This classic story finds a new setting in a musical presentation by innovative theater director Watanabe Eriko featuring all the members of this month’s company.
URA OMOTE SENDAI HAGI (Sendai Hagi Front and Back)
Meiboku Sendai Hagi (The Troubles in the Date Clan) is one of the most famous plays in kabuki. It shows the attempt to take over one of the most famous samurai households in the Edo period, the Date clan ruling Sendai, a scandal that caused a sensation in its day. This particular version of the play takes the most famous scenes of the original play and combines them with a story of greed and lust among commoners involved in the plots against the Date clan with the murderous servant Kosuke a parallel to the larger-than-life villain Nikki Danjo. It is also a virtuoso turn for Kanzaburo and part of his family tradition as he plays the heroic nursemaid Masaoka, and the two villains, Nikki Danjo and Kosuke.
Act I: The Hanamizu Bridge
The samurai lord Yorikane (Shichinosuke) has fallen in love with a courtesan and has neglected responsibilities, causing high-ranking retainers to plot the takeover of his domain. Returning from the pleasure quarters, he is attacked at Hanamizu Bridge, but is able to escape thanks to the help of a sumo wrestler retainer.
Act II: The House of the Doctor Doeki
Doeki is a doctor to commoners who lusts after Otake (Fukusuke), the servant of a neighboring maker of geta clogs. On the orders of Nikki Danjo and his accomplices, Doeki has secretly prepared poison to get rid of the lord of the Date clan and hopes to use the two hundred gold coins he received to make Otake his mistress, but instead, he is killed by his servant Kosuke (Kanzaburo) who steals the gold coins. But no sooner does Kosuke get the gold than it is snatched away by a stray dog.
Act III: Masaoka's Chambers and Below the Floor
Yorikane has been removed from office, but now the titular head of the clan is his young son, a very vulnerable target to the forces trying to take over the clan. Masaoka (Kanzaburo), the boy's nurse is desperately afraid that he will be poisoned. She refuses to let anyone see him who might try to assassinate him and attempts to keep him safe in the women's quarters where men are forbidden. She even fixes his meal in her quarters using her delicate tea ceremony implements to cook rice. The plotting faction does not give up, though, and sends poison in the form of candy as a present from the shogun's chief retainer. Masaoka's son sacrifices his life for the young lord by eating the poisoned candy, and when he is killed, Masaoka thinks only of protecting her lord. Her fierce devotion to duty convinces the plotters that she is on their side. Masaoka's actions help save the young lord, and only when she is alone can she grieve for her son. As the villainous women, featuring Senjaku as Yashio and Hidetaro as Sakae Gozen.
Another faithful retainer Otokonosuke (Kantaro), stands guard underneath the room, but the evil Nikki Danjo (Kanzaburo) appears as a giant rat, but then slips away, walking calmly through the clouds.
Act IV: The Trial of Kosuke and Nikki Danjo's Violence
In the original Meiboku Sendai Hagi, there is the trial of Nikki Danjo, who has been denounced by the elderly Geki, a faithful retainer of the Date clan. In this version, Nikki's trial scene is replaced by Kosuke's trial scene which is a kind of copy involving commoners instead of samurai. Kosuke and Otake are both accused of killing Doeki, but the judge is in league with Kosuke and soon places the blame on Otake. However, there are two judges and the wise Kurahashi Yajuro (Mitsugoro) comes and shows who the real killer is.
Nikki Danjo's trial has taken place at the same time and his lies have been seen through by the wise judge Katsumoto (Mitsugoro). Condemned to death, Nikki takes his revenge by stabbing Geki (Yajuro), the man that accused him.
- Tokaiya or Ikari-Tomomori by Shoroku at the National Thetre(2011.07.23)