Monday, February 18, 2013

Kabuki Theater

Kabuki is a traditional form of Japanese theater, dating back hundreds of years. The make-up, costume, movement, music and vocalization are very dramatic and carefully choreographed. Historically, only men performed Kabuki, even the female roles. At Damine School, all of the children learn about Kabuki each year. Dr. Sato, a retired professor of Japanese Arts from the University of Illinois, came to Damine and worked with students, teachers and community members on this year’s Kabuki performance. This is such a meaningful way to pass on rich, artistic cultural traditions from generation to generation.

Damine’s Kabuki performance is a big event in the area. News reporters came to take video and photographs.

The artistry and detail in the set design, costumes and make-up were stunning.

Even the school superintendent had an important role of clapping wooden blocks in various rhythms to signal important aspects of the performance; he never missed a beat!

Men, women and children of Damine performed for 9 hours in an outdoor theater, starting at 11:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. I was in awe of their precision and grace throughout the entire performance.

Audience members sat on the floor. They brought cushions and blankets to keep warm since the temperature was about 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Around the outskirts of the theater were many food booths, with warm, fresh, delicious snacks. Mrs. LeBlanc and I are enjoying “gohen-mochi”, very soft rice on a stick glazed with sweet soy sauce.

Coins are wrapped inside these papers. Audience members toss coins wrapped in colorful pieces of paper at the exciting parts of the performances. This is their way of saying “Bravo!” You can see the colored papers on the stages. It sounds like an applause when you hear the coins land on the stage. 

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