The outstanding young Kabuki star Ebizo Ichikawa XI will be making his debut appearances in London and Amsterdam, heading up a company of over 30 actors and musicians. The programme features two classic Kabuki works: the visually stunning Fuji Musume, in which the Wisteria Maiden dances against a gorgeous backdrop of wisteria flowers; and Kasane, a dramatic tale of love, murder and revenge, famous for its beautiful musical accompaniment.
Wednesday 31 May – Sunday 11 June 2006 at 7:30pm
Sunday 4 & 11 June at 2.30pm
Earphone guides will be available to enhance your enjoyment of the Kabuki performance.
Cost: £3 (deposit of £5)
Wednesday 15 June – Saturday 17 June 2006 at 8:15pm
Sunday 18 June 2006 at 3:00pm
Fuji Musume [The Wisteria Maiden]
One of the most popular of kabuki dances, The Wisteria Maiden demands both elegance and a subtle sensuality from a dancer.
The dance portrays the figure of a fashionable young girl (Ebizo XI), extravagantly dressed in a long-sleeved kimono with a distinctive wisteria pattern and carrying a branch of trailing wisteria blossoms. This figure was a popular theme in the folk art pictures known as otsu-e sold to tourists on the shores around Lake Biwa from the 17th century. In 1826, a multi-part kabuki dance piece was created using five of the most popular otsu-e figures. The Wisteria Maiden is the only one still regularly performed today.
The lyrics are a delicate tissue of allusion and word play, which paint suggestive images rather than telling a story. The dancer interprets these images into fluid movement to portray the joys and sorrows experienced by a young girl in love. With its dynamic expressivity, rhythmic shifts, eye-catching scenery, and colorful costume changes, The Wisteria Maiden is a pure joy to watch.
A richly poetic and beautiful dance-drama scene from a much longer play, Kasane brings together eroticism and horror in a baroque blend typical of early 19th century kabuki.
Kasane (Kamejiro II) is a lady-in-waiting who has fallen in love and become pregnant by the handsome samurai Yoemon (Ebizo XI). Unable to be together, the two lovers have fled to a midnight riverbank in order to kill themselves. As they make their emotional final farewells, a wooden grave-marker and a skull with a sickle embedded in its eye come floating down the river. Unknown to Kasane, several years before Yoemon had slept with her mother and murdered her father, Suke. In revenge for having slept with her father’s muderer, Suke’s spirit possesses Kasane, making her lame and disfiguring her face horribly. The wicked Yoemon then tries to kill the tragic, possessed Kasane…
Kasane deals with heavy themes of adultery, possession and murder, but through the enchantment of music and dance. The highly embellished, rhythmically flexible kiyomoto style of music and the complex poetry of the lyrics provide a languorous dream-like backdrop to a play that simultaneously chills and delights.
Sadler’s Wells London’s dance house and premier venue for cutting-edge contemporary dance, mainstream dance and ballet, and for international theatre and opera productions. It is a major producer of new work and host to the world’s greatest international companies. For more information, click on www.sadlerswells.com
The Holland Festival is the trend-setting high point of the cultural season in Holland, which presents innovative and dramatic arts across the spectrum. For more information, click on www.hollandfestival.nl
Askonas Holt is one of the world's leading arts management agencies, representing some of the finest classical musicians of today as well as working extensively in the fields of dance, theatre and festival management. It last presented Kabuki in 2001, featuring Nakamura Ganjiro III. For more information, click on ww.askonasholt.co.uk
Kamejiro Ichikawa II (1975- ) is one of the most popular of kabuki’s young stars. His family background is impeccable - his father is the impressive character actor Danshiro Ichikawa IV and his uncle the hugely popular maverick Ennosuke Ichikawa III, famous for his Super Kabuki spectaculars.
Kamejiro himself first appeared on stage at the age of 4 and took his current name at the age of 8. He spent his apprenticeship in his uncle Ennosuke’s troupe, but has recently struck out on his own, impressing in both male and female roles from the traditional repertoire. In London and Amsterdam, Kamejiro will play the role of tragic heroine, Kasane.