Japanese Art Bunraku Puppet Theater Returning To Charlottesville
21, 2001-- The internationally known Tonda Traditional
Japanese Bunraku Puppet Theater Group, touring the United States,
will give its second performance in Charlottesville.
troupe will present its ancient art at the Charlottesville Performing
Arts Center on Sunday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m. The group first performed
in Charlottesville in 1999 to a sold-out house at the University
of Virginia's Culbreth Theatre. The performance will be sponsored
by U.Va.'s East Asia Center, with the generous support of Jamie
and Mary McConnell.
admission tickets for the performance cost $12 for adults, and $6
for students. They are on sale at Mincer's, Plan 9 Records and New
in the late 1600s, the puppet theater had become Japan's most popular
form of dramatic entertainment by the 18th century, the age of the
Shoguns. Known as bunraku, the theater attracted outstanding playwrights,
including Chikamatsu, who is sometimes called the "Shakespeare of
Japan." Bunraku plays are some of the most important written dramas
in all of Japanese literature.
group will perform three pieces from the classical bunraku repertoire:
a celebratory dance, the sanbaso, featuring a shinto priest puppet;
an excerpt from "Keisei Awa no Naruto" about a tragic story of a
mother who cannot reveal her identity to her daughter; and "Hidakagawa
Iriaizakura," a humorous but haunting play about a woman who transforms
herself into a serpent to win back her lover.
Tonda Puppet Theater Group comprises traditional bunraku puppet-masters
who manipulate half life-size puppets that act out dramatic scenes
from plays. Bunraku puppetry poetry, along with haiku poetry and
kabuki theater, is one of the high traditional art forms of Japan.
The performances are set to samisen music. While dialogue in bunraku
theater is in Japanese, the Charlottesville performance will include
introductions, in English, to each scene. The troupe will also present
a demonstration of bunraku technique, featuring sword-fighting,
one of the hallmarks of bunraku theater.
Tonda troupe, in existence for almost 200 years, is from the historic
area of Lake Biwa, near Kyoto. Traditionally, the art of puppetry
was passed down from father to eldest son. In recent years, men
as well as women from outside the puppeteering families have been
are welcomed into the troupe, which has been designated an "Intangible
Cultural Treasure" by the Japanese government. Though bunraku once
had a large popular following in Japan, the Tonda troupe is one
of the only remaining traditional performing puppetry groups.
more information contact Jett McAlister at (434) 924-7836, or visit
the Web at http://www.berea.edu/IC/tonda/tonda.htm.
Katherine Jackson, (434) 924-3629 and Jane Ford, (434) 924-4298