Kabuki Onstage: A Solo Performance

07/29/2017 - 07/30/2017

7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Portland Japanese Garden

Kabuki actor Nakamura Umemaru makes his US debut in Tenaraiko, one of the most beloved dances in the Kabuki repertoire. A rising star among Kabuki actors in Tokyo, the handsome young man plays the role of a young girl on her way home from a calligraphy lesson who fantasizes about the life ahead of her as she plays with butterflies and composes love poems from the words she wrote in class. Female roles, or onnagata, have been played by men in Kabuki since laws prohibiting women from stage performances to protect the public decency were enacted in the 17th century.  It is said that onnagata actors are able to capture the essence of the feminine spirit, and their studied movements and graceful poses represent the quintessential woman.

Each night’s performance begins with the actor arriving on stage without full make-up and costuming and we watch as he faces the audience, assisted by costume change artist and Kabuki actor Nakamura Umeno, and applies the make-up, elaborate wig and costume that transforms him into a lovely young maiden. The dance is one of the most famous in the Kabuki repertoire and involves an almost magical costume transformation called hikinuki that is performed on stage in front of an often awestruck audience.

Portland Japanese Garden
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