Making use of an offer by the fabulous Kashiwa International Office of Tokyo University, we went once more to see Kabuki. But this time, the event was adapted for the uninitiated. The National Theatre of Japan holds a program in June which is aimed for school students: how to appreciate Kabuki. It starts with an introduction, where an actor explains the stage, the instruments and sound effects used. Also some poses of the aragoto acting style of the Kabuki heroes and the onnagata, male actors who specialize in female roles, were explained. The best was that we even had headphones and a receiver for translation!
In the intermission, the headphones explained the difference between Kabuki and Western theater: in Western theater, the idea counts, it is a representational theater. In Kabuki, on the other hand, the performance of the actor, underlined by strong makeup and flashy costumes, is the important point, it is a presentational theater.
Finally, the main part of the event, the Kabuki play followed:
Narukami, the story of a priest who has brought a big drought on the country by imprisoning the rain bearing dragon in a waterfall. He breaks his Buddhist vows after being seduced by a princess who was sent to set free the dragon. Out of rage, he turns into a thunder god. It was really entertaining, and I have to say, having the headphones that also explained cultural references really helped!
The summer program of the National Theatre is definitely a great way to get acquainted with Kabuki and gave me an appetite to come back for more.