The play “Leather Wallet found in Shibahama” based on the classic rakugo “Shibahama” belongs to the world of “sewamono” or stories of the lives of ordinary people, with their gritty depictions of the lives and customs of the Edo masses. However it will be performed as a play-within-a-play in the ancient dance piece “Kotobuki-jishi” long performed by YOUKIZA, and given an opulent rendering appropriate to the New Year. During the play, a marionette playing the role of the rakugo comic storyteller makes an appearance and moves the play along, reminding us that the origin of this play is rakugo. In charge of script and direction is Ukon Nishikawa (Nihon buyo dancer and third-generation Grand Master of the Nishikawa-ryu school of dance), who has been in charge of marionette choreography for classic pieces at YOUKIZA for the last 40 years.
YOUKIZA (National Important Intangible Folk-Cultural Property / Intangible Cultural Property, Tokyo)
An almost three hundred eighty-year-old marionette theater company was founded by Magozaburou Youki in 1635 and is currently led by Magozaburou Youki the 12th. In addition to traditional marionette theater, they also perform magic-lantern plays. In their new works, many of which have been staged abroad, they create a unique stage production by combining traditional puppetry with magic lantern pictures as well as live actors.
Magozaburou Youki the 12th
Born in 1943. Second son of Magozaburou Youki the 10th (Sessai). His first appearance onstage was at age 4. At 11, he joined the Takechi-Kabukiza troupe. He learned Noh from Hideo Kanze, and Kyogen farces from Sennojou Shigeyama. At 29, he took the name of Senyu Ryoukawa, a famous Edo magic lantern play artist, and brought back the Edo Magic Lantern to the 20th century. Along with being a puppeter, he also worked as a magic lantern dramatist. In 1993, he changed his name to Magozaburou Youki the 12th. In 2004, he began giving beginner classes to the public on puppeteering in order to foster young talents, and explored a new way for the future development of Japanese puppetry. Not content to limit himself to traditional puppetry, he works on commissioned and foreign performances as well, and is working to create new types of plays.
3-18-2 Nukui-Kitamchi, Koganei, Tokyo 184-0015
ZA-KOENJI Public Theatre (Suginami City, Tokyo)