Portland State University has posted the video (in two parts) of the recent production of the kabuki play Kanadehon Chushingura (The Revenge of the 47 Loyal Samurai). I was a geza musician in this eight-show run playing nohkan, shinobue, atarigane, and crow call. This was a major production with a huge team of actors, musicians, make up and wardrobe crew as well as many other staff members. Because of the rarity and scope of such a production, a lot of people established in the field of Japanese theater and literature came to town for the show. It was great to see old friends and meet new ones.
A very special guest was Donald Keene, the preeminent scholar, writer, historian, translator, and teacher of Japanese literature. On March 7, he and his son Tsuruzawa Asazo presented a fascinating lecture/performance titled "A Journey through Sin, Redemption, Miracles and High Adventure: The Tale of the High Priest Kochi." This bunraku puppetry play was originally published and staged in the 1680s, but was lost until a script was rediscovered in a British museum in 1968. Keene's presentation included a documentary film showing the long and challenging process of remounting the play from this single script, along with Tsuruzawa's live virtuoso performance of an excerpt of the play on shamisen, chant, and song. The story of Kochi was more mysterious and otherworldly than other Japanese plays I have seen even though it was based on a real person.
This was a very interesting project to be involved with. Professor Larry Kominz did a wonderful job as director and gidayu chanter. The show naturally got stronger as it progressed over the two-week run, and I enjoyed the way each performance was influenced by the energy of the various audiences. I heard that this production was covered by more than 100 Japanese newspapers, and saw that there were several Japanese news outlets at the press conference after the final show on March 5. I'm especially looking forward to seeing the video because my off-stage position during the performance didn't allow me to see the stage. If you watch the video, please share any thoughts you have regarding the performance.