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Theatre Review: ‘Kaidan Chibusa no Enoki’ (The Ghost Tale Of The Wet Nurse Tree)

The Heisei Nakamura-za company performs Kabuki at the Lincoln Centre Festival, NYC!

Heisei Nakamura-za Photo by ShochikuThe Lincoln Centre Festival performance of the Kabuki play ‘Kaidan Chibusa no Enoki’ (The Ghost Tale of the Wet Nurse Tree) took place in NYC from 7th – 12th July 2014 at the Rose Theatre. Having inherited the dream of their father Nakamura Kanzaburō XVIII, who sadly passed away in December 2012, the performance run was dedicated to him by his sons Nakamura Kankurō VI and Nakamura Shichinosuke II. Kanzaburō helped establish the Heisei Nakamuraza, a portable Read more…

An English translation of ‘Meiji Gekidan: Ranpu No Moto Ni Te’ (Talks On Meiji Era Theatre: Under The Lamp) By Okamoto Kidō

April 14, 2014 1 comment

Translation was undertaken for Kabuki fans who are unable to read Japanese!

Okamoto KidoBorn October 15th 1872 to Okamoto Keinosuke (a samurai retainer of the Tokugawa Shōgunate who, after the Meiji Restoration, went to work for the British Legation as an interpreter) Okamoto Kidō is best known outside of Japan for his mystery novel ‘The Curious Casebook of Inspector Hanshichi’. His family were avid Kabuki fans and well-connected in the theatre world. Though Kidō announced his intention at an early age to become a Kabuki playwright as a consequence of his father’s bankruptcy he had to skip University and Read more…

Art Exhibition: Kabuki – Japanese Theatre Prints

November 11, 2013 2 comments

Come face to face with Kabuki theatre’s most famous characters!

Miya, from the series Tokaido gojusan-tsugi no uchiVenue: National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

Date: 4th October 2013 – 2nd February 2014

The opening up of Japan to the rest of the world after Commodore Perry’s 1853 visit sparked a craze in the West for Japanese art and design. Called Japonisme it began in the late 1850s and peaked with and after what is considered by some the most pivotal event in the history of Japanese art in the West; the exhibition of Sir Rutherford Alcock’s collection of Read more…

2nd Installment From Okamoto Kido’s Talks On Meiji Era Theatre – Under The Lamp

March 2, 2013 1 comment

Part 14:  The scene at the opening of the new Kabukiza!

Danjurio IX as Komon Mitsukuni 1895 OK part 14Kabuza Gossip – ‘Heart Warming Historical Tales of Kōmon’ (Zokusetsu Bidan Kōmon Ki) — Scholar, Amateur Kabuki Dramatist and Journalist Fukuchi Ōchi — The Appearance of Kabukiza Banzuke advertising posters – ‘The Fire Brigade Fight’ (Megumi no Kenka).

After the Great Earthquake disaster (of 1923) the appearance of the Kabukiza theatre building was once again anticipated. Also a large part of the Read more…

1st Installment From Okamoto Kido’s Talks On Meiji Era Theatre – Under The Lamp

February 11, 2013 2 comments

Part 14 The Scene at the opening of the new Kabukiza!

Zokusetsu Bidan Komon ki OK part 14Kabuza Gossip – ‘Heart Warming Historical Tales of Kōmon’ (Zokusetsu Bidan Kōmon Ki) — Scholar, Amateur Kabuki Dramatist and Journalist Fukuchi Ōchi — The Appearance of Kabukiza Banzuke advertising posters – ‘The Fire Brigade Fight’ (Megumi no Kenka) Read more…

Theatre Review: Anjin: The Shogun And The English Samurai

February 9, 2013 6 comments

A lavish three-hour stage production of the relationship between William Adams and Shogun to be Tokugawa Ieyasu!

Anjin - The Shogun and the English SamuraiOn the 12th April 1600, some six months before the battle of Sekigahara took place on 20th October that same year, the first Englishman to step foot in Japan, William Adams (Stephen Boxer), arrived off the coast of the Japanese province of Bungo in the Dutch ship the Liefde. It was a combination of these events which, that year, brought together and changed the fortunes of two men; William Adams, a maritime pilot from Gillingham, and the Shōgun to be Tokugawa Ieyasu (Masachika Ichimura), a descendant of the Minamoto and the wealthiest Daimyō (Lord) in Japan at Read more…

Interview: Producer Thelma Holt – Anjin: The Shogun and the English Samurai

January 30, 2013 3 comments

“The influence of Japanese theatre has been and is tremendous!”  Thelma Holt

Thelma Holt profile photoThelma Holt CBE began a long and distinguished theatre career as an actress. She then founded the Open Space Theatre in Tottenham and has worked for the Roundhouse, the National Theatre and the Peter Hall Company. She went on to found her own theatre production company, Thelma Holt Limited. She works with the distinguished Japanese Director Yukio Ninagawa to bring Anglo-Japanese theatre to the Read more…

Interview: Actor Stephen Boxer – Anjin: The Shogun and the Samurai

January 23, 2013 3 comments

“What I love is how their friendship [Anjin and Tokugawa] crossed boundaries and superseded all that and became mates!”  Steve Boxer

Stephen Boxer  as AnjinStephen Boxer is an Olivier nominated stage, film and television actor. A veteran of the RSC he has performed widely at, amongst others, the National Theatre, the Barbican, the Duchess Theatre, and the Hammersmith Lyric. He won a London Fringe Award for Best Actor in his role as the Governor in ‘The Clearing’ at the Bush Theatre and his performance with the RSC as Read more…

Anjin: The Shogun & The English Samurai At Sadler’s Wells London

January 15, 2013 7 comments

A magnificent 3-hour stage production set in 17th Century Japan!

Anjin - The Shogun and the English SamuraiGregory Doran’s production of ANJIN: THE SHOGUN & THE ENGLISH SAMURAI, written by Mike Poulton with Sho Kawai, will play eleven performances at Sadler’s Wells Theatre from 31 January to 9 February 2013, with the press night on Thursday 31 January.

William Adams, the “blue-eyed samurai” known in Japanese as Anjin, was an English maritime pilot. Washed ashore on a strange and exotic land, Anjin soon found himself as the trusted adviser to a powerful Read more…

Tokyo Kabukiza Monthly Kabuki Review 15th April – 1st May 1930 Part Two

November 30, 2012 3 comments

Final part of a two-part series by kabuki collector Trevor Skingle!

A Past Story Under the Lamp  pg 64 65歌舞伎座劇評集 No. 64 – 昭和5年 4月15日 – 昭和5年 5月1日 (Shōwa 5 nen, 15th April – 1st May 1930)

Sugi Nishi Monogatari (aka Ranpu no Moto nite) A Past Story (Under the Lamp) Series Part 12, Okamoto Kidō. page 60

The entire series was published as “Meiji Gekidan Ranpu no Motonite” (On the Theatre of the Meiji Period – Under the Lamp) published by Read more…

Kabukiza Monthly Kabuki Review Number 12 Part One

November 21, 2012 4 comments

First in a two-part series by kabuki collector Trevor Skingle!

歌舞伎座劇評集 No. 64 – 昭和5年 4月15日 – 昭和5年 5月1日 (Shōwa 5 nen, 15th April – 1st May 1930)

Sugi ni shi Monogatari (Rampu no moto ni te) A Past Story (Under the Lamp) Series Part 12, Okamoto Kidō. page 60

The entire series was published as “Meiji Gekidan Ranpu no moto ni te” (On the Theatre of the Meiji Period – Under the Lamp) published by Read more…

East Meets West – The Marriage Of German Ballerina Hedi Wekel and Japanese Cellist Yukichi Koh

November 5, 2012 1 comment

Hedi Koh (born Hedwig Wekel) (1909 – 2012)

Hedi Koh who had died aged 103 was born on the 20th February 1909 as Hedwig Wekel in Leipzig. She was a highly talented ballerina, nearly 19 years old, at the Leipzig opera when she met Yukichi Koh. He was the first Japanese man she had ever seen and she was surprised at this good looking, beautiful man. Till then she had only known Japanese faces from Japanese Ukiyo e, woodcut prints and had formed some strange perceptions about the appearance of Japanese people, expecting them to be yellow skinned and Read more…

Okamoto Kidō On The Kabuki Theatre Of The Meiji Period – Part Two

September 29, 2012 5 comments

Second in a four-part series by kabuki collector Trevor Skingle!

Published as a series in 1935 and then in full as “Meiji Gekidan Ranpu no Moto ni te” (On the Theatre of the Meiji Period – Under the Lamp) by Iwanami Shoten in 1993. These extracts are from the serialisation which appeared in the late 1920s early 1930s in the Tokyo Kabukiza Monthly Kabuki Review magazine as Read more…

Okamoto Kidō On The Kabuki Theatre Of The Meiji Period – Part One

September 19, 2012 6 comments

First in a four-part series by kabuki collector Trevor Skingle!

Published as a series in 1935 and then in full as “Meiji Gekidan Ranpu no Moto ni te” (On the Theatre of the Meiji Period – Under the Lamp) by Iwanami Shoten in 1993. These extracts are from the serialisation which appeared in the late 1920s early 1930s in the Tokyo Kabukiza Monthly Kabuki Review magazine as Read more…

Tokyo Kabukiza Monthly Kabuki Review April – May 1930

August 11, 2012 4 comments

Second and final part of the Tokyo Kabukiza Monthly Kabuki Review series by Kabuki collector and researcher, Trevor Skingle!

The second of the Tokyo Kabukiza Monthly Kabuki Review magazines No. 64 covers the period 15th April – 1st May 1930. Unfortunately missing from the series is magazine No 62 covering the period from March – April 1930.

The magazine cover, from a print by Toyokuni III, depicts a scene from a Sankatsu-Hanshichi mono – dances or dramas whose main characters are the lovers Akaneya Hanshichi, the son of a sake merchant in the Yamato province, and Minoya Sankatsu, an Ōsaka courtesan. Both characters really existed and committed shinju, double suicide, on the Read more…

Tokyo Kabukiza Monthly Kabuki Review 15th February – 1st March 1930

July 20, 2012 5 comments

First in a two-part series by Kabuki collector and researcher, Trevor Skingle!

Some time after acquiring the Sintomiza tsuji banzuke, I discovered two Kabuki magazines for sale by a Swiss dealer and purchased them. What followed was a long period of research and translation that revealed a wealth of information about a four month period of Kabuki performances at the Kabukiza in Tōkyō between February and May 1930. This issue, entitled the Cherry month edition, of the Tokyo Kabukiza Monthly Kabuki Review, which began publication in 1914 by Tanaka Sada, was number 62 covering the period 15th February – 1st March 1930 and was edited by Torii Kotondo (1900-1976) who was the title page editor whose real name was Read more…

A True-Life Kabuki Crime Story: An Actor And His Geisha Mistress Murder Her Patron

July 9, 2012 3 comments

An historical tale of love and murder that resulted in the death penalty!

Between 1868 – 1869 Kobayashi Kinpei, the boss of a successful money lending business, had prospered as a result of the economic downturn caused by the Boshin Wars between the Imperial and Shōgunate forces which led to the Meiji Restoration and the modernisation of Japan. In 1869 he met and bought the contract of a Geisha, Yoarashi Okinu and set her up in Saruwaka-cho in a shōtaku (a house in which a mistress is kept) and with a haneri (kimono under collar) shop in the Read more…

Meiji Era Kabuki: Three Shintomiza Tsuji Banzuke Part Three – 1912

July 2, 2012 5 comments

Third and final part of the Meji Era Kabuki series by Kabuki collector and researcher Trevor Skingle!

The performance date places the performance this tsuji banzuke advertised on 8th February 1912, the last year, 46, of the Meiji era, which ended that same year with the death of Emperor Meiji on 30th July 1912, which had been a time of major changes in Japanese society. The developing Japanese fascination with photography and ‘bromides’ as they were called was reflected in the growing numbers of Kabuki images that became available and their collectors, usually rendered as postcards as is evidenced in those for Read more…

Meiji Era Kabuki: Three Shintomiza Tsuji Banzuke Part Two – 1899

June 26, 2012 7 comments

Second in a three-part series by Kabuki collector and researcher Trevor Skingle!

Having adopted the Western calendar in 1873 the turn of the century was on the horizon in Japan. Many changes had taken place in the previous century, not least some pivotal ones for Kabuki.

In 1872, with the ending of the Tokugawa prohibitions on the location of the Kabuki Theatres, following the lead of Morita Kanya XII (the owner of the Shintomiza) the Kabuki theatres had Read more…

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