Friday, June 13, 2008
The future face of Bunraku
I went to see some puppet theater. I love Chikamatsu Monzaemon, the master playwright of 17th century Japanese pupper theater, and one of his plays was happening. It happened to be pretty boring, partly because I was sleepy, partly because I didn't think I would need the English interpretation via headphones (they would have helped), and partly because this barely surviving art form has lost its popular appeal over the generations probably thanks to how slow it is. It's more fun to read, in my book. Chikamatsu's love-suicide plays are still awesome, I think.
Anyway, yes it was cool to go to the theater, and the puppets were pretty amazing. It was shocking to see how life-like and disturbing the final double-suicide was. The puppet masters are indeed masterful. 3 people handle each puppet - a master and 2 assistants, I think. Some of the puppet masters are so celebrated that they don't have to wear black mask-hoods on stage to conceal their visage. Some even get applause when they step out on stage. I still think it would be fun to be so involved in this ancient tradition. These people must be so devoted to bunraku. You can't weekend as a bunraku singer. Slow, but impressive.