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August Grand Kabuki, First Performance

ONNA SHIBARAKU (Female "Wait a Minute")
More ceremony than play, Shibaraku is one of the oldest pieces in kabuki. Just as an evil villain is about to execute a group of loyal retainers, a voice calls out for him to wait and a hero appears to save the day. This version is a parody, though, as the hero is played by an onnagata female role specialist, who mixes the super-human strength of an aragoto hero with the soft gentleness of a kabuki heroine. Featuring an all-star cast led by Fukusuke, who appears as the heroine of justice.
SANNIN RENJISHI (Parent and Child Lion Dance)
Renjishi is one of the most popular dances in kabuki, but usually, it is a dance with father and son, in this special version, mother and father appear along with the child. In Asian tradition, the shishi is not really a lion, but a kind of mythical creature that guards the mythical stone bridge to heaven. There is also a tradition that the way a parent shishi teaches its child is very severe and in this dance, the father lion throws his son into a valley, hoping that he will have the strength to climb back up on his own. The striving of the young cub, the concern of the parents, their joyous dance when the son returns to the top of the mountain all show the love between father and son. It stars Hashinosuke as the father shishi, with Senjaku as the mother and Kunio, in real life Hashinosuke's son, as the child.
RAKUDA
This is a popular dramatization of a rakugo comic story. A petty gang boss named Rakuda (Kamezo) has died after eating blowfish. Hanji (Mitsugoro), one of his gang members, finds him and hopes to bury him, but has no money. When he tries to get the neighbors to contribute, everyone is overjoyed that such a nuisance is dead, but won't contribute a cent towards his burial. Finally Hanji pulls in a passing waste paper collector named Kyuroku (Kanzaburo) and forces him to carry around Rakuda's body and threaten to make it dance if the neighbors won't pay up. They get a great sum of money and start drinking together. But as he drinks, the hapless Kyuroku becomes surprisingly aggressive.

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