Ebizo Ichikawa XI, scion of Japan’s oldest kabuki family, returns to Singapore on the 17th and 18th of October. Travelling with Japan Theatre, Japan’s ‘Prince of Kabuki’ will be putting on a limited three-performance run of two kabuki plays that have never been seen before, Uwanari and Mimasu Kuruwa no Kasauri. While the latter is a brand new piece created specially for the Singaporean performance, Uwanari has not been performed in a hundred years, and its debut on the 17th October in Singapore marks a significant moment in kabuki history.
First performed in 1699 by Danjuro Ichikawa I, Uwanari is one of the famed Kabuki Jūhachiban, a set of eighteen kabuki plays that epitomise the Ichikawa family’s acting style. Though several of these plays continue to be performed in Japan, Uwanari had fallen out of the repertoire, at least until Ebizo Ichikawa XI chose to revive it. Now, after lying dormant for a century, this old classic will be reborn on the stage of The Grand Theatre at the Marina Bay Sands.
Uwanari, which means “second wife” and “jealousy”, is a torrid tale of jealousy, hate, and love. In it, a man divorces his wife and marries another woman. But while the newlyweds enjoy marital bliss, the jilted wife fumes, and plots her revenge on her ex-husband and the woman who replaced her. Passions will flare and dark schemes will bloom in this in riveting play, all told through impassioned dance.
Along with Uwanari, Ebizo Ichikawa XI will also be debuting a brand new piece in Singapore, Mimasu Kuruwa no Kasauri. Set in Edo, the old name for Tokyo, the performance is centred around an umbrella seller in the Yoshiwara district. With his fine wares and irresistible charisma, the umbrella seller charms passers-by into buying his umbrellas, and conducts a brisk business until he’s beset by ruffians who want a piece of his profits. However, their attempt at intimidation backfires when the umbrella seller reveals himself to be Ishikawa Goemon, Japan’s greatest thief and outlaw. In a dazzling display of athletic prowess, Ishikawa Goemon soundly beats the thugs and sends them running, and is lauded as a hero by the entire district.
This October, audiences will not only be amazed and delighted by one of Japan’s best living kabuki practitioners, but, with the revival of Uwanari and the debut of Mimasu Kuruwa no Kasauri, will also have the opportunity to witness history being made.
Tickets for Japan Theatre 2015 will go on sale on the 11th of July 2015 through Marina Bay Sands (marinabaysands.com/ticketing).