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08/12/2011

A night at the theater

                For the first time in my life I had the opportunity to witness a Japanese form of art known as Kabuki. At first glance ,when I walked up to the Shimbashi Enbujo Theater, my first thoughts were, “Great, an average looking theater, which probably means an average performance.” Wow, was I ever wrong. I mean, granted I do know a little about kabuki from my college studies, but I suppose it is to be expected that like everything else in Japan, you can’t tell what’s inside a building by the outside. Yeah, that was kind of a judge a book by its cover metaphor… Anyhow, when I entered the inside of the theater, I was astonished. As in “jaw dropping to the floor astonished.” While I've had the chance to go inside a theater before, most of them were small one floor theaters, possibly with a few balconies. What waited inside this theater was three stories of classy and amazing seats, and the most beautiful stage I have ever seen. This quickly changed my opinion of the theater and I was even more interested to see the show.

                The play that was performed was called Akegarasu Koi No Manegoto (The Bird at Dawn and the Playacting of Love), followed by a small 10 minute dance performance called, Natsu: Tama Matsuri (The Obon Festival). Now I must say, hands down, I thoroughly enjoyed the play. There was a nice mixture of comedy, anger, seriousness, romance, and sorrow. Although I didn’t have a clue what was being said (there was an option to rent English translation headphones, but I didn’t want to spend the money), the actors portrayed all of their lines with such emotion, that it was easy to understand the basic concepts of the play (also my friends with the English audio filled me in on the dialogue during intermissions).

                I think the most enjoyable part of the play was the way it flowed and was presented using the given stage space. They used a very large round rotation area of the stage to seamlessly change between the scenes. I thought this was very creative, and made it more enjoyable because you were not distracted with scenes being set up (they were done behind the scenes). The play took place in the Edo period and went somewhere along the lines of: two samurai guys love a girl, one guy gets jealous, and he kills her. The killer tricks the other guy by using a doll, which the guy believes is the girl. Everyone sees this, and attempts to convince him of it and the guy ends up killing the killer (this is my understand, though I could be wrong on some details due to lack of feedback from my translator friends).

                All in all, I thought the whole play was simply amazing, even  though I couldn’t understand everything. It truly was an awesome experience, one worth doing again if the chance presents itself.

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