Last month, a ceremony was held at the Kabuki-za in Ginza, unveiling a clock which will count down the days until the closing and subsequent demolition of the theatre. The clock began at 365 days from May 1, 2009, and will hit zero following the closing of four months of “Sayonara” performances.
Prominent kabuki actors, and executives, cut the ribbon at the unveiling of the countdown clock. Ichikawa Danjūrō, easily recognizable with his shaved head, stands on the far right. I am not too familiar with most of these faces, but believe that the gentleman second from the left is Sakata Tōjūrō.
Brief addresses were made by prominent kabuki actors including Nakamura Shikan VII, Sakata Tōjūrō IV, Nakamura Tomijūrō V, Onoe Kikugorō VII, and Ichikawa Danjūrō XII.
The full article from Shōchiku’s (and thus Kabuki-za’s) official website kabuki-bito.jp can be found at: http://www.kabuki-bito.jp/news/2009/05/_photo_229.html.
This is a very special time for kabuki, and for its fans. Granted, this is hardly the first time the theatre’s been destroyed and rebuilt almost like the original. Even so, how I would love to visit Tokyo before April 2010, to attend one of the sayonara performances, to obtain a program from one, to have my picture taken in front of the countdown clock… to really be a part of history in a way. And then, 10, 15, 20, 25 years from now, when I am teaching a course on traditional Japanese drama, I can tell my students about how I saw the “old” Kabuki-za (not the original, of course, but the one that stood from the 1950s until 2010), how I got to attend the sayonara performances, stand in front of the countdown clock, and, attend one of the first performances after the (re-)opening of the “new” Kabuki-za as well, in 2013.
I am very much hoping to visit Tokyo next spring, and to attend these performances, but the more I think about it, no matter how “cool” it would be, it is ultimately a ton of money to spend to just have a vacation, an adventure, a trip, and there are much more responsible ways I could be or should be spending that money. At the very least, it should be saved to make sure I can make it home for close friends’ weddings and other major family/friends events like that.
In other kabuki news, theatre director Ninagawa Yukio recently organized a production of kabuki version of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” Entitled “Ninagawa Jūniya” (lit. “Ninagawa Twelfth Night”), it was performed at London’s Barbican Theatre this past March, and will be / is currently being performed at the Shinbashi Enbujō in Tokyo in June, and at the Shōchiku-za in Osaka in July.
Anyone see it? Sounds really interesting.