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February Grand Kabuki, Matinee

SUGAWARA DENJU TENARAI KAGAMI
SUGAWARA and the Secrets of Calligraphy)
-Kamo Zutsumi (The Kamo Riverband) and Ga no Iwai (The Birthday Celebration)-
These are two acts of a great historical epic written for the puppet theatre about the downfall of the statesman and calligrapher Sugawara no Michizane and will feature the younger stars of kabuki. The story focuses on three brothers, who each serve one of the principals in the political affair. Matsuomaru (Somegoro) serves the villain Shihei, who has had Sugawara exiled. Umeomaru (Shoroku) serves Sugawara, as their father has. Sakuramaru (Hashinosuke) serves Imperial Prince Tokiyo.
The first act shows the romantic meeting that Sakuramaru and his wife Yae (Fukusuke) arranges between the prince and Sugawara’s daughter. But it is seen by a retainer of the villain and becomes an excuse to exile Sugawara.
The second act shows the birthday party of the father of the three brothers. Despite their rivalries, the three brothers are supposed to gather peaceably with their wives, Umeomaru’s wife Haru (Senjaku) and Matsuomaru’s wife Chiyo (Shibajaku) for their father Shiratayu's (Sadanji) birthday, but strangely enough, Sakuramaru does not appear. The brothers are named after the trees in the garden and while waiting, Matsuomaru and Umeomaru get into a fight and break the branches of the cherry tree. Shirataru sees this and disowns Matsuomaru and scolds Umeomaru for his failure in duty. In fact, Shiratayu knows that these are omens that his youngest son must die. When everybody leaves, Sakuramaru appears and sadly commits ritual suicide for being responsible for the tragedy.
KYOKANOKO MUSUME NININ DOJOJI (Two Women at Dojoji Temple)
A beautiful young woman dances under cherry blossoms at a dedication ceremony for a temple bell. She dances the many aspects of a woman in love, but is actually the spirit of a serpent, driven to destroy the bell out of jealousy. In addition to being the most famous of all kabuki dances, Musume Dojoji is considered to be the pinnacle of the art of the onnagata female role specialist. Bando Tamasaburo, whose beauty and artistic genius is renowned throughout the world, will give his definitive performance of this dance in a special double version together with young onnagata star Kikunosuke.
NINJO BANASHI BUNSHICHI MOTTOI
Chobei (Kikugoro) spends his days and nights gambling, but is finally made aware of his family's problems when his daughter takes a job in the pleasure quarters. Having received the money for her contract, he shows his good side to save a young man on the edge of suicide after losing a large sum of money, but nobody believes him, thinking that he has gambled it away. Adapted from a classical rakugo story by Sanyutei Encho, the play shows the gallant spirit of the commoners of Edo. With an all star cast featuring Living National Treasures Kikugoro as Chobei and Shikan as Okoma, the mistress of the Kadoebi brothel.

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