Sunday, November 21, 2010

REVIEW: The Peony Pavilion (Sino-Japanese version)

The opening night on November 19 of The Peony Pavilion at the Kwai Tsing Theatre Auditorium attracted a full house. This Kunqu opera came with a subtitle “Bando Tamasaburo’s Sino-Japanese version”, a subtitle that is so important in appreciation of this performance.

Bando Tamasaburo is the best known onnagata actor (an actor specializing in female roles) in Kabuki . For this production, he works with the Suzhou Kunqu Opera Theatre of Jiangsu Province. This performance featured 7 of the original 55 scenes (20 hours).

In general, it was a very gratifying evening for me. Tamasaburo’s Du Liniang borrows greatly from Kabuki. The movements were subtlety in stylized acting. His was less rushed and jerky in movement (when compared with the other actors) with nuances so delicate that some people may interpret it as insipid. He ensured that his portrayal was never coy or coquettish to the point that made him look like a drag queen. His Du Liniang was always a dignified lady.

A lot of the emotions were removed from the face and translated to series of fine and measured movements. I was particularly in awe as how he poised himself in these refined positions, such as having only one foot appearing under her dress regardless of standing or seating down. In the moments when she was frail, that same foot was shown leaning on its side… just wonderful.

The performance of Tamasaburo was equally matched by the members of the Suzhou Kunqu Opera Theatre. Yu Jiulin provided a handsome and eloquent Liu Mengmei, the love interest of Du Liniang. Shen Guofang’s Chunxiang, Du Liniang’s personal maid, was delightful and genuinely affecting. However, the other highlight of the evening though was Lu Fuhai’s Dream Spirit and Nun Stone. Lu, a National Class One Performer, has the gift of story telling that despite not understanding fully the dialect he was speaking, I seem to know what he was saying!

Related link: SATOSHI on New Vision Arts Festival

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At July 2, 2013 at 11:11 PM , Blogger Kashfiya said...

I love your informative post regarding Kabuki Theater. I have collected kabuki theater book from at PIJ now I wanna to collect Kabuki theater dance dress from there.It will really great to me.


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