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June Grand Kabuki, Matinee

To me, this is the best program in a few years.
***
SHOFUDATSUKI KONGEN KUSAZURI (The Tug-of-War Over the Amor)
A short dance in the oldest style of Kabuki, leisurely and full of humor, combining the charm of an onnagata female role specialist with the larger-than-life heroism of the bombastic aragoto style of acting. The strong woman Maizuru stops the powerful, but rash, warrior Goro from rushing to a fight by pulling on the set of armor he is carrying.
FUTATSU CHOCHO KURUWA NIKKI -Sumoba (The Sumo Wrestlers)
"Futatsu Chocho" means "two butterflies" and also comes from the fact that two sumo wrestlers who play important roles in the full length play have names beginning with "cho": Chokichi and Chogoro. Nuregami Chogoro throws a match and begs instead the younger wrestler Hanaregoma Chokichi to persuade his patron Gozaemon to give up Azuma. But Chokichi loses his temper and the two end up competing in a test of pride.
CHO NO MICHIYUKI (The Journey Through the Afterworld of the Butterflies)
When people die, it is said that their spirits become butterflies. Having committed double suicide, the butterfly spirits of Sukekuni and Komaki dance in human form remembering the time they first met and their love for each other. But their happiness is brief as they are again tormented by hell.
ONNA GOROSHI ABURA NO JIGOKU (The Lady Killer and the Hell of Oil)
This play has become phenomenally popular in modern times for its hard-boiled sensibility and sensuous killing scene with the protagonists slipping and struggling through puddles of spilled oil, but was virtually ignored at the time it was written. Written by Chikamatsu, it shows the wastrel son of a well-to-do merchant who constantly tries to borrow money from the wife of a neighboring oil merchant. Pressed for funds, he tries to blackmail her, but ends up killing her in the long, dream-like scene that gives this play its title.

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