Kabuki at Colorado College コロラドカレッジの歌舞伎

The Medicine Peddler, directed by Laurence KominzI have been in a city called Colorado Springs since the end of January. I am here to assist with a production of the kabuki play The Medicine Peddler (Uirô uri) at Colorado College. My role is music director. I am also playing shamisen and singing ozatsuma in the show.

Colorado College students have been a great pleasure to work with. They are remarkably talented and are fast learners. I am working especially closely with four students who–in addition to playing important acting roles in the show–will provide the live music for the production. They will play key instruments such as bell, flute, drums, wooden clappers, etc. They have been doing a terrific job in rehearsals and will be sure to wow audiences at our upcoming shows on February 8, 9, and 1o.

In addition to kabuki, there will be other presentations on the program such as buyô dances, a tribute to Ichikawa Danjûrô XII (1946-2013) by Dr. Laurence Kominz, and rakugo by yours truly. If you can make it to Colorado Springs, please come to the show! The students will surely be enjoyable to watch!

If you cannot make it to Colorado College for the show, please watch the Monday show live(!) online at: http://www.coloradocollege.edu/live.

Show dates and times (Mountain Standard Time)

Saturday, February 8, 2014, 7 p.m.-9 p.m.

Sunday, February 9, 2014, 2 p.m.-4:00 p.m.

Monday, February 10, 2014, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. (STREAMED LIVE, MST)


Richard F. Celeste Theatre
Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center, 825 N. Cascade Ave. (map)


FREE and suitable for ALL AGES!

See you there!

The Medicine Peddler, directed by Laurence Kominz (2)1月末からコロラド州のコロラド・スプリングズという町に来ております。ここにコロラドカレッジという大学があって、英語歌舞伎の「外郎売り」の演出を手伝わせていただいています。僕が囃子音楽(鳴り物)を学生さんに教え、三味線と大薩摩もさせていただいています。



コロラドカレッジまで来れない方は、月曜日の公演はライブストリーミング放送で見えるので、ぜひご覧くださいませ。リンクはこちらです。→ http://www.coloradocollege.edu/live.

ショーの日にちと時間 (アメリカの山地時、MST)



2月10日(月)13時〜15時(ライブストリーミング放送、日本時間 11日(火)の午前5時


Richard F. Celeste Theatre
Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center, 825 N. Cascade Ave. (地図)




Children Cute, Straightforward かわいい子ども、正直もの

Rakugo at International School, PortlandRecently it crossed my mind, children are so cute.

Last week I performed rakugo for two groups at the International School in Portland. The first group consisted of ages 3-6, the second ages 7-10. I thought it would be best to do a story that is both easy to follow and has a lot of gestures (shigusa), so I performed “The Zoo” (Dôbutsuen).

During the makura, we did animal voices/calls, and I asked the children about their dreams, and jobs they would like to do in the future. Children have incredible imaginations, and they are quite good at mimicking.

And boy are they straightforward.

At the get-go I said, “I am going to tell you a funny story today!” but, during the makura, 3 or 4 children blurted out, “When are you going to tell us the story?” and “Hurry up!” …

Once I got into the story proper, I was amazed at how well they concentrated. They laughed at all the funny parts, and if something seemed somewhat strange, they let me know it with a, “Wha〜t?!”

Performing rakugo is ALWAYS enjoyable for me, but my most recent audiences–children–were so honest and pure, and they left quite an impression on me.

Now, if you ask me if I am ready for children of my own, hmm, I don’t know about that… I think I may lack still the confidence. After all, I was more than a handful for my folks. I have been able to gather that the job of parent is a tough one, indeed.

Instead, I’ll play with other people’s children.

And I would love to perform rakugo for them again.


先週、ポートランドにあるインターナショナル・スクールで二組に英語落語を演らせていただきました。最初のグループは3~6歳で、その次は7〜10歳のグループでした。分かりやすい、仕草の多い演目がいいと思って、 「動物園」にさせていただきました。






自分の子どもがほしくなったかいと言われたら、いや、それはどうでしょう。自信はまだちょっと… 僕は悪い子だったので、親という仕事はどれほど大変か、ちょっと分かるような気がします。



Luring In Audiences 呼び込み

I am not a professional rakugo storyteller.

However, when I have opportunities to perform, I get an idea what professionals must have to go through from time to time — particularly those younger hanashika still working to build a fan base.

On Saturday, I went to the theater where I was to perform rakugo. It was my first time performing at this particular venue. I found my dressing room without too much trouble, changed into my kimono, and proceeded to the backstage area five minutes before going on.

Two very friendly stagehands put out my zabuton, kendai, and hizakakushi. As the time to enter time drew near, I noticed there was almost no sound coming from the audience. Perhaps two people conversing quietly…

“Have they opened the doors yet?” I asked the stagehands.

“Um, I’m not sure. It doesn’t sound like it…” one replied. “Do you happen to know where the emcee is?” he continued, asking me.

WHAT! Do I know where the emcee is?! How would I know where the emcee is? I started to get a touch worried.

“Well, I do have a tuxedo-like jacket,” the other stagehand kindly offered, “I suppose I could introduce you.”

Yet, there was almost nobody in the audience. This reminded me of a story that a pro hanashika once told me about having to do rakugo for just one person. “At least I have two,” I tried to comfort myself.

Fortunately, I had the cell phone number of the woman who invited me to perform. I called her.

“Hello, this is Matt.” I said very calmly.

“Hello, Matt? Are you there now?” she asked.

“Yes, it looks like we are running 15 minutes behind.” I told her as casually as possible. “You wouldn’t happen to know where the emcee is, would you? He’s missing.” I continued.

“Oh he’s here with me,” she said almost as casually. “I’ll send him over.”

A very good idea.

I figured it would take the emcee at least five minutes to arrive and get situated. I recalled that there were about 100 people outside on my way into the theater. I decided to run out to invite them in to listen to rakugo.

Good afternoon, everyone! What a beautiful day it is today!” I projected as best I could across the large square. “And what a beautiful day to share a few laughs! Won’t you come inside to hear me perform rakugo, Japanese comic storytelling? The show will start momentarily, and it will be in English!”

I approached every group and individual that I could find, then ran back into the theater. Almost as soon as I returned backstage my entrance music (Ishidan) began playing.

I entered, kneeled on the zabuton, and bowed. I clacked the kobyôshi on the kendai to get started and was thrilled to see 15 people already in the audience. As I progressed through my makura intro, more people made their way in, bringing the total to 50 or so.

I was so grateful that they came!

The story (“Morning Toiletries” Chôzu mawashi) went well. I had so much fun with this wonderful audience that my 45-minute set was over in the blink of an eye.

On this day I had to go outside of the venue to work for my audience. I beckoned people to come in and see me perform. This was a first for me.

It soon dawned on me that this is what many hanashika–especially young ones–have to do on a regular basis.

I learned from this that winning an audience is not easy, even if the show is free. This must especially be the case for professionals, who not only ask for time but also the cost of a ticket. This is how hanashika make their living. Hanashika therefore have to stay hungry, humble, train hard to be more interesting than rival entertainers, and foster relationships in and outside the yose.

I am glad that I was able to experience having to work for my audience on Saturday. I gained further respect for hanashika who wake up every day to devise new ways to win new fans and keep them coming back for more.







え~?!なぜ僕が…? 司会がどこに行ったかなんて分かりませんよ~。分かるわけないでしょ~。徐々に心配になってきました。

そしてもう一人の舞台係が「いやぁ、私、タキシードのようなジャケットがあって、あれでしたら、私が司会役をできないこともないですが… 」と言いました。優しい方ですけどね。





「はい、舞台の方は15分ほど遅れているそうですが…」とできるだけ平静を保って言ってみました。そして、「あの… 司会の方は、どちらにいらっしゃるかお分かりでしょうか。こちらにはいらっしゃらないんですが… 」




「皆様、こんにちは!本日は本当に気持ちのいいお天気ですね~!」できるだけ大きな声で繰り返しました。「こんな素敵な日に一緒に笑えたら最高ですね!これから、僕のラクゴ (ジャパニーズ スタイル ストーリーテリング)を聴いてくださいませんか~。英語で演りますが、間もなく始まりま~す。ぜひ、中の方へどうぞ~!」









This Weekend: “Skosh Japanese” 今週末:「少しジャパニーズ」

SkoshPosterI was kindly invited to perform rakugo this weekend at “Skosh (a little) Japanese,” a children’s festival and culture fair being hosted by the Mt. Hood Community College Japanese Club & Ebetsu Gresham Sister City Association.

I am honored to be a part of this special celebration, and to share the stage with big-name artists such as Portland Taiko, koto virtuoso Mizuki Dazai, and best-selling author Kristina McMorris. There will also be children’s activities, tea ceremony, calligraphy, ikebana (flower arrangement), bonsai, and haiku booths.

I will have the stage from 12:00 to 12:45pm. I have yet to decide which story to perform. I think I should do something interesting for all ages including children, so maybe a story like “The Zoo” (Dôbutsuen), or “Morning Toiletries” (Chôzu mawashi). These would be good because they are quite physical stories, and easy to follow. I have heard them told numerous times, but have never performed them in public myself. I better decide and get practicing!

“Skosh Japanese” will be held on Saturday, May 11, 2013 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Mt. Hood Community College – Gresham Campus. I hope to see you there!

"The Outlook" article by Rob Cullivan今週末、マウント・フッド・コミュニティカレッジの日本クラブと江別・グレシャム姉妹都市協会が「少しジャパニーズ」という子ども祭りと文化フェアを主催しますが、僕が落語を紹介するために親切な招待をいただきました。


12時〜12時45分の間に落語を演らせていただきますが、根多はまだ決めていません…  子どもを含むすべての年齢が楽しめるような落語がいいのですが、「動物園」、または「手水廻し」のような噺がいいかもしれません。仕草も多いし、分かりやすい根多です。この噺は何度も聴いていますが、僕はまだ人の前では演ったことはない… 早う決めてお稽古せんな。


“The Sensei” 「ザ・センセイ」

shores sensei by takacheeI am lucky to have another group of talented students, this time for the course Traditional Japanese Drama.

Last year the final project for this course was a kabuki production, which I directed the hayashi ensemble and played ozatsuma shamisen for. This year I was planning on making kyôgen the centerpiece of our show Drama, Dance, Drums, but, since I’ve got such a great group, we’re going to take on even more.

In addition to two kyôgen plays, we are  going to do a kyôgen dance (komai), a kouta (“little song”) accompanied by shamisen, a comical folk dance called Dojô sukui (Loach Fisher), a nô-butô dance fusion, and rakugo. And, believe it or not, there will be even more. My co-director and his students will be putting on several taiko and buyô numbers, including a lion dance (shishimai). We are all very excited for the show, and it is a great pleasure to teach such a course.

We have our formal rehearsal sessions on Friday afternoons. While one student was waiting for her rehearsal time, she apparently painted me from the side. I had no idea she was doing this, but was pleasantly surprised when she shared the work with me. The work (above) is titled “The Sensei.” You can see more of her work at this site.

We have about six more weeks until our recital on June 6, and we hope to see you there!