Picture (Ogasawara Tadashi)

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Encountering Kyogen: My life and my dream.

First, I would like to explain to you, the fun, humor, and imagination of Kyogen by introducing a short play Bonsan. First, a theif onstange enters the house of an acquentience. Unfortunately, the unwitting theif is then spotted by the master of the house. And so, the master inside of the house beings to play on the theif's ignorance of his own situation. The master beings to mock the theirf, "Oh, look at this, what a nice dog he is!" And so, the master goes further, "Oh, I must have been mistaken, this a monkey!" And so the theif in order to keep up appearances, and to maintain his pretension of being undiscovered, is forced to play along and respond. One after another, the theif, upon being called these names, humorously acts out the character of the animals named. He barks like a dog, screams like a monke, and so on. Finally, then the master pushes the theif beyond the realm of the possible with his final demand. "Wait! I know! He must be a fish! Why, I've never heard the cries of a fish!" With this line, the theif is truly cornered. He is faced with the absurd. Fish don't cry, so what can he do? But the master of the house does not relent, and makes the theif submit to this absurdity. And to push the limits of the absurd even further, the master of the house threatens full of bravado, "Well, if this fish dosen't cry out, I'll shoot him with a cannon!" The theif, as frightened and perplexed as he may be, attempts the audacious, to cry, "as a fish would." And so, the audience is able to view the moment of absurd comedy when, to conclude the play, the theif meekly cries, "Fish! Fish!"

This is the Kyogen play Bonsan. It is part of a 600 year tradition of humor and comedy that is the art of laughter, the art of the absurd, Kyogen. There is a charm and wit particular to Kyogen that makes even the most hesitant spectator laugh out loud.

I first encountered Kyogen as a high school student. I was orignally raised in an ordianry household ran by my father who was an ordinary businessman. I had no special connection to Kyogen at all. Yet, one day a friend of my high school teacher, met an amature student of the Kyogen Master Nomura Mannosuke. This amature student appealed to my teacher, that Kyogen and Classical Japanese be taught in the classroom, and this meeting was to become my introduction to the art of Kyogen.

The first time I saw Kyogen on stage, I was surprised. It was so new that I consider this expeirnece to be a "culture shock". The scale of the stage was large and rich, and luxurious and roomy. And yet, this large scale was compeltely filled with by the performance of only two actors. It was the richness of epxression I experienced that filled the air, and this was amazing. I was captivated by the atmosphere.
And so, after this expeirence I felt that I wanted to perform Kyogen as well. And so I asked if I too might be able to learn to perform, and my high school teacher introduced me to the Kyogen Master Nomura Mannosuke. In time, in following with the tradition of Kyogen education and instruction, I became his most inncouragable and rambunctious apprentice.

And so it came to be that I began to learn Kyogen as an apprentice of the Nomura Manzou household. In 2 years I was able to perform as the lead in Funefuna and I applied for a (3-person) Noh actors internship at the National Theater. At the time, there was a fotuitous opening for Kyogen performers in the Izumi style. I applied for this position and was accepted, and Nomura Mannosuke become my teacher. I was euphoric that my dream to perform was beigning to become reality.
"Kyogen must be beautiful. In order to exist on the Noh stage, one must be able to form expression using their body". And so it was with this goal in mind that I learned the Kyogen repotoire of songs and dances. It was this period where I first learned the basics that have sustained me since.

Three years after I six years of training, nine years after beginning, I was allowed to begin solo performances.
I started with Sanbasou, and was overjoyed at having achieved independence as a performer. I believe from my heart that the reason I was able to perservere through the many harships I encountered, and to succeed as a performer, was due to my love for Kyogen. During my journey, no matter the amount of strife I encountered, my passion for Kyogen was always just a little bit stronger.

Presently, I represent the Nomura Manzo School of Kyogen, Yorozu Kyougen in the Kansai region. Here, I am actively working to support and continue the tradition of Izumi-style, called,Izumi-ryu Kyogen.
Izumi-ryu Kyogen is centered around Tokyo, Nagoya, and the Hokuriku region of Japan. And so, in an even further twist of fate in my life, I was ordered by my teacher to reside and practice the arts I had learned in Osaka! At the time, I had no connection to the area, and I could not imagine what might befall me in Osaka. Yet, I decided to take my chances here.
After arriving, I observed that In Osaka, people are full of emotion and color, and one can live in Osaka and enjoy its feeling of ease. In Osaka, is tradition to acknowledge that which is truly remarkable regardless of pedigree or social standing. When I came to Osaka, I came with the hope that if I gave an authentic performance, I would be indeed be welcomed.

At present, due to the support of the people of Osaka, the amount of fans and supporters at my perfomrnaces has grown. Day by day, and with each additional performance, I can feel the audience's response, and feel surely that my activies are appreciated. I hope that this supprt will grow and allow Izumi Kyogen to take root and flower here. It is my dream that a century from now, Izumi Kyogen will be an integral art of the Kansai area I look forward to this future and am making preparations so that one day, this dream may become reality.

I am able to realize part of this dream by teaching Kyogen in Osaka. Up until my arrival in Osaka, I used all my energy learning. However, by teaching, I have been able to understand more deeply the training I recieved. It would be too selfish of me indeed, to have learned this traditional art, and yet not pass it on to the next generation. I was told by my teacher himself that, "To become a master of Kyogen one must pass the baton to the next generation." The truth of these words resonates deeply within me, and as such, I hope dearly to fulfill this obligation.

With hope of raising future performers in mind, it is my goal to introduce the wonder of Kyogen to as many people as possible. This goal is my guiding light when I stand on stage. By performing and holding workshops I believe this dream is achievable. When more and more people expeirence their own personal Kyogen culture shock, the number of enthusiasts will grow. And from them, the number of professionals will grow as well. I sincerely look forward to educating these future performers.

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