Tokyo theatres in August

Summer is the holiday season for theatres in Europe – a difficult time for theatre lovers, who are thus deprived of their favorite enjoyment for three long months. However it is also the time of performing arts festivals, which do a great job in filling the gap until September, when theatres resume their activities. With Festival d’Avignon in July and The Fringe going on right now until the end of August in Edinburgh, there is still a lot to see and to experience, although clustered in one corner of the continent or another.

In Japan there is no off season for theatres, so business is going on as usual, with hundreds of performances every week, leaving both artists and audiences no time to even dream of feeling bored 🙂 Regardless of their scale, the shows in summer tend to be exuberant, invigorating and full of joie de vivre, so you can rest assured you’ll be leaving the theatre in high spirits no matter where you happen to enter.

Here is a very small selection of August performances, which I would recommend heartily:

Unarguably the most awaited show of this summer in Tokyo is ABKAI ―えびかい―, starring kabuki actor Ichikawa Ebizō and comprising two performances – Jayanagi『蛇柳』, a famous play in the kabuki repertoire, firstly performed by Edo period kabuki star Ichikawa Danjurō in 1763, and Hanasaka jiisan『花咲じいさん』, an original kabuki dramatization of a Japanese fairy-tale. Award-winning dramatist Miyazawa Akio has been entrusted with writing the script for the latter, while Miyamoto Amon, renowned for his staging of musicals, is responsible for its direction. With this trio of highly acclaimed artists, the performance promises to be a real success. “ABKAI” has already started on August 3rd and will continue until the 18th at Bunkamura Theater Cocoon in Shibuya.

At the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre, Theatre East, the theatre company mum & gypsy will perform their latest work “cocoon” from August 5th through 18th. Originally a manga by illustrator Kyō Machiko, “cocoon” depicts Okinawa during World War II. The mixture of real facts with fantasy in this work has been praised enthusiastically, leading to its dramatization under the supervision of young director Fujita Takahiro, himself an artist who has been gathering much attention recently.

Yaneura © Rinkogun

Yaneura © Rinkogun

Starting with August 30th through September 5th we will have the chance to see Rinkōgun’s famous work “The Attic” Yaneura『屋根裏』(directed by Sakate Yōji), which will be restaged at the company’s atelier Umegaoka Box. (Yes, you’ve got it right. The whole action unfolds inside that trapezoid box!). Rinkōgun will be touring Europe this year in September, by the way, with performances of “The Attic” in Ukraine and Italy.

The performances I personally look forward to seeing this month:

On the side of traditional performing arts there is a special summer event held on August 29th at the National Noh Theatre, consisting of three separates acts, each belonging to a different genre of comedy – kyōgen “Hanaori”, rakugo “Shinigami” and kōdan “Hachi no ki”.

Have a fabulous summer, everyone, wherever you happen to find yourselves, inside or outside the theatre 🙂