Friday, February 24, 2012

Cinema Kabuki

Hey hey! Yesterday I saw my first Kabuki play! (feel kind of funny saying that) And it was awesome! How did I see a Kabuki play in Toronto you ask? Well the Japan foundation had their yearly run of Cinema Kabuki, in which the Japan foundation rents a theater and screens Kabuki plays in HD.

Last year's poster
The play I saw was called Hokaibo. It was the story of a corrupt and vile priest who loves to drink, have crazy sex and generally messes around in people's business.There are a cast of characters all played by members of the super famous Nakamura Kabuki family, many members of which have been in a number of high profile Japanese films and television dramas. The play was a comedy featuring hilarious bits of prop, physical, absurdest and situational comedy that is so present in many other Japanese media. It was a lot of fun.

The Trashy Monk, Hokaibo

The plot revolves around a family scroll that was stolen from a noble prince, who is searching tirelessly for it. The scroll changes hands several times in the play and eventually ends up in the monk Hokaibo's possession. Aside from the scroll there are also side stories about a poor girl who is constantly harassed by creepy guys and who is having an affair with the prince and another one about the princess whom the prince is engaged to. The play culminates with the princess and Hokaibo dying and fusing into a single vengeful spirit (which has both character's voices, and an army of exorcists attempting to defeat the vengeful spirit. Sounds wild no?

From the final scene, in which Hokaibo and the princess's amalgamated spirit is reeking havoc while being exorcized. 
 So what was my impression of this strange and new Japanese art form? (new to me, I mean) It was awesome!!! The visual style was beautiful and wild! I loved it! The comedy was actually hilarious! I laughed out loud many times! And the ending was so visually spectacular with the main character high on a platform and cherry-blossom petals falling from the stage before the main character jumped into an array of rope in an exciting and dangerous fashion. I wish I had a pic of this scene! Truly like nothing I have ever seen. It seems to me that Kabuki really is a kind of multimedia art form, with dancing, music, acting, in this case, a bit of comedy, and a little bit of acrobatics all in one. I brought my family and they loved it! Well, all except my grandma who wasn't really feeling it. But suffice it to say, I'm definitely going to watch more Kabuki in the near future if possible. Loved it, loved it, loooooooved it!!!   

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