Went to see this
Thursday night with layla_lilah
. Three short comic plays were presented by members of the Izumi School. 20th head master since 1995, Izumi Motoya, his sisters Izumi Junko (first professional female kyogen actor) and Miyake Tokuro (second professional kyogen actor and the first to inherit a stage name, her grandfather's) and Junko-san's six year old daughter Izumo Kyoko. The Izumi school dates back to the mid 15th century when it was patronized by an aristocratic family whose name I cannot recall at the moment. Patronage passed to the Tokugawa shogunate in the 17th century.
The three plays were all performed in Japanese, in traditional costume. Bonsan
tells of a man who envies his neighbor's collection of bonsai and decides to steal one. When the owner hears noises and comes to investigate, the thief hides behind one of the trees. Recognizing the friend who has been begging him for years to part with a tree, he decides to tease him. "Oh, I thought it was a thief, but it seems to be a dog!" The thief howls like a dog. "No," the owner comes a bit closer. "Not a dog. I think it's a monkey!" The thief shrieks and scratches like a monkey. "Ah, now I see! It is a sea bream!" The thief uses his fan as a dorsal fin but is otherwise stumped when the tree owner says, "But the bream always cries when it puts up it's fin!" The thief jumps out from behind the tree crying "tai, tai, tai" and flees with the owner chasing him.Ne ongyoku
means "horizontal singing." The Master of the house calls his servant Taro Kaja to come sing for him. Taro Kaja claims he can only sing when he is drunk. The Master brings out sake and Taro Kaja drinks. And drinks. And drinks. The Master reminds him he's supposed to sing. TK now says he can only sing well while lying with his head on his wife's knee. The Master pats his knee. TK rests his head and begins to sing. The Master then asks him to try while sitting up, but TK croaks horribly and begs off. The Master offers his knee again. TK bursts into melodious song. The Master begins raising TK up and down, At first TK's voice cracks when he approaches vertical and returns to melodiousness when he lies down, but he quickly becomes confused and starts mixing the positions up as he becomes dizzy with drink. Forgetting himself completely, he gets up and dances while singing - and is eventually chased from the stage by his angry Master . Kojidawara
, or "The Tangerine Bag" A buyer shows up early to pick up his order of fruit for the New Year. The grower asks him to come back later because he hasn't packed them. Although the order was pre-paid, the grower had sold the tangerines to someone else. He takes his child (Izumi Kyoko, aged six) , tells him the problem and asks him to get into the bag. The child is kitted out with a demon mask and told to take advantage of his earliest chance to run away from the buyer.
The buyer returns, marvels at the size of this year's bushel, particularly when the grower helps load the burden onto his back, assuring him that he has the best fruit this year. On the way home, he begins to tire and tries to put down his load, only to hear a voice cry, "Don't put me down!" He looks around, but there's no one there. He decides it's best to hurry home. "Don't hurry!" commands the voice. Realizing it's coming from the basket, he puts it dow and tries to flee, only to hear "If you don't let open this basket right now, I shall eat you!" Demon is freed from basket, buyer flees and demon chases him.
Even without knowing Japanese, the stories were comical and easy enough to follow, even though the vocal presentation and stage movements are stylized. I'm glad we got to see them.
I'm also glad we got to have a look at the Lords of the Samurai show (second time for me, first for my companion). One of the noh robes is displayed laid out on a table. There are seams at the tops of the shoulders and sleeves, something I haven't seen in traditional kimono construction. Although I could not see the back of the garment, what makes the most obvious sense is that the seams are there so that the decorative pattens of phoenixes are right side up on both sides of the garment.
I also picked up a CD in the gift shop, Japanese Masterpieces for the Shakuhachi