Kabuki appreciation at the Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre

On January 27, members of the Yamaguchi-Takada laboratory received an invitation from Professor Yamaguchi and saw synopsis of “Futago Sumidagawa” at the Shimbashi Enbujo theatre.

Lab members in front of the Theatre

Shimbashi Enbujo Theatre is the place which has a long history. It is a famous place that Super Kabuki that combines traditional movement with modern theatre technology was established, and famous kabuki actors such as Ichikawa Ennosuke II and Ichikawa Chusha IX were taking their names.

The performances took place in the day session (11:00-15:00), and members gathered and appreciated at the site.

“Futago Sumidagawa” is a history play written by Chikamatsu Monzaemon. It was the 4th performance for the first time in 23 years. In addition, in October 1976, it was performed for the first time in about 250 years by the Ichikawa Ennosuke III. The performance was four-act structure.

In the preliminary scene, Yoshida Umewakamaru, played by Ishikawa Ukon II, was running away off, and his mother was mourning. In the second curtain, Sarushima Sota played by Ichikawa Udanji III committed hara-kiri due to remorse and became Shiro Tengu. In the third scene, Shichiro Tengu rescued Matsuwakamaru and delivered to the mother. They were flying away through the air. And the final, a faithful retainer named Gunsuke is sent after the carp and a spectacular underwater battle ensues.

Members of the laboratory were impressed by the spectacular and dynamic production of Kabuki such as three people flying, carp grabbing, quick change of the scenes. Also, we were overwhelmed over the atmosphere and enthusiasm of the venue since the performance was to commemorate the Name Succession of Ichikawa Udanji III and the first stage of his son Ichikawa Ukon II.

Lab members in front of the Theatre

After the performance, the members moved to the Kabuki-za, located just beside the Shimbashi Enbujo, and prayed for their health and success at the Kabuki Inari Shrine.

After praying, discussion on the performance contents of Kabuki was held at “Le Café Doutor” located at the intersection of Ginza 4-chome which is famous for its highest land price in Japan. Discussion ranged from “the scene that was impressive” and “the role that you would like to play if you are a performer” to the history behind the story. As for the impressive scene, many of members chose scenes of carp grabbing, and there were many opinions that they were impressed by the powerful and dynamic direction using water. Also, as for the role that they wanted to play, there were interesting opinion that one of the students wanted to play Kuroko who moves the carp tail fin in the scene of carp grabbing.

Photo in front of the store with “Tori” zodiac

Members’ impressions about the extracurricular activities of this time as follows.

「It’s the first time I watched kabuki and I found it to be very interesting.」(Researcher, Poong)

「It was a valuable experience. I was impressed by their performance of the kabuki actors, the fine production with properties, and the dynamic stage production using the whole theaters.」(M2, Ohya)

「It was a really great experience. While viewing, I tried to keep up with the story by being conscious of the five senses although I was sometimes puzzled by the conversation with archaic words. Especially, I was impressed by the performance of Takeda Takeru (8 years old) who played as Umewakamaru and Matsuwakamaru. It was a dignified performance that I couldn’t believe as his first performance. I thought that it’s important to understand beforehand not only the story, but also the background information of the performers, and the relationship between the performers. It may help to feel even more interesting.」(M2, Yu)

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