Benkei and Yoshitsune cross the various kinds of boundary.
Transition between Kabuki and modern play returns on a stage again.
“Kanjincho” describes a drama that Yoshitsune and his servants flee from the enemy and
manage to pass through the Ataka barrier station thanks to a witty idea of Benkei and
warm sympathy from Togashi-saemon. In the premiere version created by Kinoshita-
Kabuki in 2010, with the stage representing modern road, a stop line was drawn to
symbolize the barrier station, which could be seen as various “boundary” such as national
borders, the relationship of master and servant, the line between past and present and
etc. The play was designed to be a drama to “cross over those boundaries”. Reproducing
for the first time in 6 years, the casts, stage design and costumes were all totally
renewed. Reconsideration of the theme of “crossing over the boundaries” took this work
to a deeper and noble ground in Japanese modern theatre.
“Kanjincho” is generally famous for its portrayal of the remarkable royalty of Benkei for
his master, Yoshitsune, which deeply touches Togashi and he finally passes them through
the barrier station. Conflicts among three men are finely depicted. Kunio
Sugihara(Director), however, turned the lights on the minor roles such as the guards at
the station and the servants of Yoshitsune. Focusing on their struggles and sufferings
between their own boundaries, he expanded the original work which only features Benkei,
Yoshitsune and Togashi, to a huge story of agony over boundary of all characters.
Furthermore, he delved much deeper into the concept of boundary in order to get rid of
the ingrained image of “the story of royalty”, assuming various kinds of boundaries which
must be crossed, which cannot be crossed and which people refrain from crossing.
Besides, “Kanjincho” is an initial work that cemented the company’s style in turning the
Kabuki pieces into modern plays. Kinoshita-Kabuki adopts an original training style of
completely copying the Kabuki behavior, and approaches distinctive style of Kabuki from
its own viewpoint. This reproduction newly built the world of “Kanjincho” which has been
inherited from the Edo period, by using modern colloquial language for almost all the lines
and doing away with the typical forms. It was such a big challenge for the company,
which perhaps surpasses the great efforts made for its premier version. This staging of
“Kanjincho” is both the culmination of the decade of experimentation and also a new
ground, which can only be reached by Kunio Sugihara, who has been working on
modernizing the Kabuki pieces through 9 works with this company.
May 2010 / Japan Tour ［Yokohama/Kyoto］
July 2016 / Matsumoto Performing Arts Centre［Matsumoto,Japan］
October 2016 / Japan Tour ［Toyohashi/Kyoto/Kitakyusyu］
March 2018 / KAAT Kanagawa Arts Theater［Yokohama,Japan］
November 2018 /
Yoshitsune and his followers are fleeing to Oshu, doubted by his brother, the general Minamoto-no-Yoritomo, under suspicion of rebellion. However, they are by confronted at the Ataka check point in Kaganokuni (1)They disguise themselves in order to pass through the check point. Yoshitsune as a porter and his followers as mountain priests. Yet the check point commander, Togashi-Saemon has been ordered to catch the disguised party. The quick-witted Musashibo-Benkei explains that they are collection donations for the reconstruction of the Todaiji temple which burnt down. Togashi orders Benkei to read the Kanjincho (official decree)(2). Of course, Benkei has no such decree, but unrolls a fake scroll and reads it as if it were real. The party pulls off an admirable performance as mountain priests thereafter, but as they are about to pass through the check point, Yoshitsune disguised as a porter is recognized. Even in this extremely strained situation, Benkei kept acting as though Yoshitsune was a porter, even going as far as to beat his faithful master. Togashi seeing this behavior finally decides to let them pass through the check point against his orders.
(1)Present-day Komatsu city, Ishikawa (2)A scroll type prospectus, explaining the purpose of Kanjin.
Supervision and revisions: Yuichi Kinoshita
Direction and stage design: Kunio Sugihara
Cast: Lee The 5th, Ryotaro Sakaguchi, Noemi Takayama,
Yasuhiro Okano, Kazunori Kameshima, Hiroshi Shigeoka, Yuya Ogaki
Music: Taichi Master
Choreography: Sei Kigawa
Lighting: Hiroyuki Ito
Sound: Daisuke Hoshino
Costumes: Kyoko Fujitani
Assistant direction: Tetsuya Iwasawa
Stage manager: Nobuaki Oshika
Production coordination: Mai Hongo
Asocciated production: Kinoshita-Kabuki