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Monzaemon Chikamatsu

Love Suicides of Sonezaki

Love Suicides of Sonezaki
Love Suicides of Sonezaki
Artistic Director Nakamura Gandsiro Iii
Dramatisation and Direction Uno Nobuo
Set Design Nagasaka Motohiro
Music Nodzawa Matsunosuke
Choreography Katsumi Yosiyuki
Light Design Soma Kiyotsune, Ikeda Tomoya
Cast Nakamura Gandsiro III, Nakamura Kandzaku V, Nakamura Kikaku. Nakamura Gando II, Nakamura Dzudziro, Nakamura Sennodsio II, Sawamura Daidso, Nakamura Gangoro, Nakamura Gandsei, Nakamura Ganjo. Nakamura Kanno. Bando Konoske, Bando Kojuro, Iwai Yoshitaro, Nakamura Gannosuke, Arashi Kitsusaburo, Nakamura Ganshu, Nakamura Gansho. Sawamura Kiyosuke, Sawamura Kiyoshi, Sawamura Kuniya, Nakamura Mataichi

«Love Suicides in Sonedzaki» opens a cycle of plays devoted to the theme of suicide of lovers. «Love Suicides in Sonedzaki» reminds of «Romeo and Juliet» with the image of the ardent and romantic love of young people. And, like Romeo and Juliet, Ohatsu and Tokubei, the main heroes of the play, always fascinate the spectators with the innocence of their romanticism.

The premiere of the new version of the play was held in 1953.

Nakamura Gandjiro III was born in 1931 in Kyoto. His grandfather and father were known actors in Osaka. Gandsiro belongs to the actors' dynasty Nakamura Utaemon. Gandsiro’s acting works is a vivid example of the performance of female roles of onnagata, which are traditional for the Kabuki theatre. In 1953 Gandjiro III and his father, Gandsiro II, took part in the avantgarde movement, supporting the revival of plays of the well-known Japanese playwright Chikamatsu Mondzaemon. In 1953 the play «Love Suicides in Sonedzaki» was revived. Gandsiro then performed the role of Ohatsu, the young courtesan and main heroine of the play. Gandsiro has played this role over a thousand times. In 1981 Gandsiro organized the Chikamatsudza troupe inside the large organization of Kabuki. The basic purpose of this troupe consists in the revival of Chikamatsu's works in their original performance. Their first performance «Suicide of Lovers on the Island of Heaven» (for the first time staged in 1721) was held in 1982 at the National Theatre of Tokyo. In 1996 Gandjiro was given the rank «Living National Monument». In 1984 he became honorable citizen of New Orleans, and also of Washington and Calgary in 1988. In 2005 Gandsiro will receive the name of great Kabuki actor Sakata Todsuro IV.

Kabuki and Chikamatsu. The Kabuki Theatre was for many centuries in the centre of cultural life in Japan. Since 1630 Kabuki became a theatre where all the roles were performed only by men. The basic elements of the traditional acting technique are the dance ‘Kabuki’ and the church chant in the style of 'Bunraku'. The Kabuki troupes prefer, as against their brothers-in- art, the puppet theatre Bunraku, not to publish the full texts of the plays. The only text of Kabuki is the performance, which varies each time. All the attention is given to the actor: his person, his body, voice, movements and plastic; sensuality, eroticism and passion are an integral part of the actor’s success.

Chikamatsu Monzaemon (1653-1725) is one of the best-known playwrights of the Japanese stage. He was born a Samurai in a respectable family belonging to the highest social class. He started to write plays when he was not even twenty. In the 45 years of his writing career he has created more than 100 plays, both for the puppet theater Bunraku and for the Kabuki theatre. Working in two genres, Chikamatsu gradually pushed Kabuki towards more refined and serious plots, and at the same time brought modern resonance to the theatre traditions of Bunraku. The play «Love Suicides in Sonedzaki» was initially written for the puppet theatre Bunraku. Its premiere was held on the stage of a puppet theater in Osaka in 1703. But in 1719 this play was adapted for the Kabuki theatre and staged in the city of Edo. Based on the real facts, this work of art takes an important place in the history of Japanese theatre. Chikamatsu wrote this play some weeks after the tragic death of the prototypes of the main heroes. As Buddhism considers that the dead soul is reincarnated in the following life only after 49 days, on the premiere of production in 1703 many spectators believed that the souls of the lovers were embodied in the puppets.

Gorky Moscow Arts Theatre
june 12-17