Garasu no Kamen Synopses
In ancient Japan, a long time ago, the falling star Yorei showed up in the sky of Kyo city:
it was a bad omen, which already brought misfortune in the past.
And indeed, soon the shogunate and the emperor broke up: the emperor's family moved to the south, in Nara region, city of Yoshino, while the shogunate remained in Kyo, creating a new imperial court. The samurai families divided into two factions and the internecine wars turned soon into a civil war. But also many catastrophes occurred: big fires destroyed many temples in Nara region, then a big earthquake, a volcanin eruption of Fujiyama, which lowered of hundreds of metres...
In that terrible period, one day a bonze (buddhist monk) had a vision: a plum tree blooming with crimson flowers. The Crimson Goddess, the spirit of the red plum tree, came to protect humans from Yorei and to bring peace on Earth: this is what the bonze said. People started praying the Crimson Goddess, but the wars became more and more violent, and the hearts of the humans became more and more corrupted and fuller and fuller of hatred. Some time passed, and people forgot about the goddess and about Yorei.
Kyo was ruined: fires and dead bodies were everywhere, bandits and looters were everywhere. Then dry seasons and
contagious diseases killed even more people.
It seems that the origin of all the disasters was that the conflict between shinto gods, originary from Japan, and Buddhism, which arrived from China. Moreover, humans were interested only in power and wealth, and they abused even Buddhism to achive their goals.
The emperor of Kyo had the same dream for 7 nights in a row: the Crimson Goddess whom the bonze saw several years before... That was a sign: the goddess was about to show up! The emperor ordered that a buddhist sculptor had to be found, who was able to create a statue of the Crimson Goddess.
The Crimson Goddess appeared... Who was calling her? Probably, the smell of blood. Humans were destroying each others... Maybe it was just their business... But no, they were destroying earth and nature as well... Their souls had to be purified... Something happened to the goddess. She felt something she had never felt before... She was both happy and sad, she felt a certain warmth... What was happening to her?
In a bamboo forest, in a old abandoned buddhist temple, used to live a man. He was son of a farmer. He lost his whole family at the age of 6 in the war. He entered a monastery, then he was noticed for his talent as a sculptor and he became apprentice of a sculptor. He was very good at sculpting, but he didn't agree with his sensei, who created beautiful sculptures for rich families and samurai, and very simple and plain ones to the poor people. Then, he was sent away and he joined a group of thieves. After all his fellows died, he retired to the old temple, to live in peace with nature. He went on creating sculptures of gods and goddesses for the dead people. He used to write the word "Isshin" (truth) on the base of his statues...
The messenger Terufusa was sent by the emperor of Kyo to look for the predestined sculptor. It had to be someone
who lived in a bamboo forest. He sculpted 100 statues, and he "kept the truth", as an onmyoji said.
Terufusa found the man. He named him "Isshin" and he had some assistants and tools
arrive to the old temple, since the sculptor didn't want to move.
Anyway, Isshin could not find inspiration and lost self-confidence. Terufusa and his men guarded him every day and
night, so that he couldn't escape. One day, Isshin saw a buddhist monk, who told him to go towards the south,
to find the wood of the thousand-year plum tree to create his sculpture. The monk disapperared and
Terufusa and the others were asleep...
Isshin started walking towards the South. Some bandits attacked him, and he begged them to leave his sculpting tools to him. The leader of the thieves laughed at him, but he gave him his tools, provided that he would make a sculpture for him when he was dead... Isshin was excited: finally he undestood his mission in life!
Some time later, he found the body of the leader of the bandits. He was about to die! Before he died, Isshin gave him his statue to hold in his hands... He cheered him up even for a moment... But Isshin felt that that bandit saved him someway... He walked and walked towards the South, sometimes leaded by the monk, till one day he saw something... Like a flower... And he smelt the scent of plums... He tried to follow that vision and... He disappeared in a valley...
In a mountain village, next to the sacred zone Valley of Red Plum Trees lived a mysterious girl named Akoya.
Her parents died when she was a little child, and she was adopted by the grandmother of the chief of the village.
Akoya used to talk to animals and plants, she could understand nature, and she knew how to make special medicines from
plants, to save human beings.
One day she found wounded Isshin and she cured him. Isshin lost his memory and the two lived together in the valley.
Akoya was the Crimson Goddess in a human body.
Isshin and Akoya desperately fell in love with each other.
The grandmother of the chief of the village and all the inhabitants
of the village wanted Isshin and Akoya to separate, because they thought Isshin would bring bad luck.
For the festival of the village, where the people used to pray the Crimson Goddess, arrived to the valley General Kosunoki, member of one of the most important noble families of the South, escort of the emperor, and also three strangers, dressed up like sarugaku actors... Akoya made some symbols with red sand on the people's foreheads. Both General Kosunoki and the leader of the three strangers realized that the sand was... Tan, the elixir of life and gold!
Isshin was watching Akoya in silence. He was sad, because Akoya became unreachable. If the goddess fell in love with a man, one of the two was destined to die... But Isshin's love wouldn't end even after death...
The three strangers were actually three spies sent from the emperor of the North (Yoshino). They stole 3 symbols of the imperial family of the South: a sword, a mirror and a sphere. Only one of them was killed by a samurai. Akoya helped Kosunoki to find the other men with the three stolen objects, but Kosunoki didn't keep the promise and killed the men. Even though the relationship between Akoya and Kosunoki was ruined, the general obtained the Valley of Red Plum Trees as a reward from the emperor. The leader of the spies of Yoshino, kept plotting against him: he surely wanted the valley for the tan!
Isshin started feeling a strong passion inside... He wanted to know who he was, because he felt he had an important mission in life... Akoya didn't want him to remember... In the meantime, Isshin turned out to be very good at fighting with a sword (and the inhabitants of the village accused him to be a bandit) and at sculpting statues...
Akoya was in love with Isshin... Her human feelings prevented her from understaning the heart of nature any longer! She was not a goddess any longer! Isshin and Akoya had to be separated! Isshin was kept prisoner at Kosunoki's palace...
Three months later, Kosunoki wanted to meet Akoya again. In his palace, the samurai kept talking about the war against Yoshino every day. But Kosunoki was not sure about that, after hearing Akoya's words... When he met Akoya again, she was very skinny and weak: she kept thinking of Isshin every day, and she didn't eat or drink anything... Kosunoki promised her that she would meet Isshin again, and then talked to her about his doubts... Akoya persuaded him to stop the war... But... In the meantime, the samurai of the South already started the war without him... He had to join them, not to dishonour the memory of his father... He set Isshin free, giving him a sword to fight...
In the meantine, the fake actors, spies of Yoshino, entered the sacred valley to look for tan. But only one man was allowed to enter that valley: it was Isshin, finally aware that he had to create a statue with the wood of the sacred plum tree... A bonze appeared, showing him an hatchet and the sacred valley. A very weak Akoya next to the thousand-year plum tree met Isshin again in the sacred valley. In that moment, Akoya became a goddess again.
Some years later, in Kyo, the emperor wondered where Isshin was. He disappeared so that he could not be rewarded. Terufusa told him about a mysterious bonze who started wandering around Japan. That bonze, whose name was unknown, used to create wonderful statues and to give them to the inhabitants of the villages he visited. Those statues brought health, food, goodluck, whatever was needed. Below all his statues, the word 'truth' was graved. Probably, like the spirit of Kurenai Tennyo was in Akoya, the spirit of Buddha was in this man...
Impressions of the audience.
Since the beginning of the play, the stage presence of Chigusa Tsukikage is very strong.
Even if she wears a mask, her feelings are expressed clearly to the audience, and everyone in every
moment knows if she is interpreting Akoya (the woman) or the Crimson Goddess.
Eisuke Hayami is amazed: it's the same Chigusa Tsukikage he used to know! Genzo is also a very good actor: he is the narrator, but also Isshin and other characters.
There's a scene where Akoya and Isshin talk about love: their words are very touching...
There is no age, appearance, social status... When they meet, those two souls attract each other, looking for the other half of themselves, eager to be one, madly desiring the other half... This is falling in love... [...] My love... We were separated but now we are one again... Now that we've met, how can we separate? We can't fall apart any longer. My name and my past are not as important as you are. I'll stay here even if I don't know who I am...
Maya was so involved by the play that she sat on the ground.
Masumi can't help watching her. Those words makes him think about her even more... Suddendly, Sakurakoji stands up and sits next to Maya, putting his arm around her shoulder. Masumi is shocked.
A soul divided into two... Yin and Yang... This is Akoya's and Isshin's love... Father... This is the girl you have always loved... And now... Maya! Do you want to interpret it? With that boy?
Ayumi is enchanted by Chigusa Tsukikage's performance. And she notices that Maya is so involved that she is acting herself... She is already learning by heart the whole play!
The most important scene ( i.e. the last time Akoya and Isshin meet, and Isshin has to cut the sacred tree to make the scuplture ) has not been shown. Nobody knows what will happen: Maya and Ayumi will create their own scenes, for the demonstrative show in Tokyo.
Tsukikage felt very bad several times during the show, but the audience almost didn't notice it... Though the
scenes where Akoya felt bad seemed too true-life...
Anyway, the show is over: Ichiren gave Chigusa the strenght to perform one last time! Now, it's Maya's and Ayumi's turn! One of them will create the new "Kurenai Tennyo"!
The audience is enchanted. They clap their hands loud... Rei and the other actors of the Tsukikage and Unicorn company approach to the sensei... She is sitting by the plum tree... Her eyes are closed... She's bleeding from her mouth...
Original story by Suzue Miuchi. Synopses by Francesca.
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