About the 1988 Garasu no Kamen Play
and the 2006 Kurenai Tennyo Noh Play
"Garasu no Kamen" - 1988 Play
Garasu no Kamen, three acts.
August 3 to 27, 1988 at Shinbashi EnbuJou (Theater).
Produced by Shochiku.
Directed by Tamasaburo Bando.
Script by Suzue Miuchi.
Original "Garasu no Kamen" 34 volumes by Suzue Miuchi. Published by Hakusensha.
Maya was played by Shinobu Ohtake, who had been a great fan of "Garasu no Kamen" herself.
Her performance was superb, admired by Miuchi as just what she had perceived in her work.
The play described the time Maya's talent was discovered by Chigusa up through her performance of
It also described the competition between Maya and Ayumi in aiming at the role of Kurenai Ten-nyo.
The play included many scenes of play-inside-play. The role of Helen in "A Miracle Walker", which had been a double-cast in the original comic, was played solely by Maya, and Ayumi played Anny Sullivan.
The summary of the play is as follows.
- Maya plays Bibi in "the Nation's Number One Bride".
- Pantomime of "A Runaway Bird".
- After "Little Women", Masumi meets Maya.
- He later sends her purple roses.
- Onodera prevents Tsukikage from participating in National Drama Competition.
- Maya performs "Bianca, the Woman Pirate".
- "Beyond the Storm", in which Maya wears a gorgeous costume given by Masumi.
- "Mid-Summer Night's Dream", by Tsukikage and Unicorn.
- Nina in "Seagull" played by Ayumi.
- Ayumi receives many prizes.
- Chigusa expells Maya.
- Maya auditions for the role of Helen.
- Masumi invites Maya to practice in his vacation house.
- Masumi visits Maya, who was practicing with blind-fold.
- Masumi realizes his feelings for her.
- Maya and Ayumi play together for the first time in "A Miracle Walker".
- Maya grews as a performer with deeper understanding...
- The play ends with Maya and Ayumi playing Natasha of "War and Peace".
- Tsukikage and Masumi join.
- In the background on the stage is a vision of Kurenai Ten-nyo.
Postscript by Suzue Miuchi on "Scenario Garasu no Kamen"
I wanted to describe a passionate life of one young lady in my work and it has been 13 years.
I had very little knowledge about theater, so most of my work is based on my imagination.
For this reason, I feel embarrassed to hear that actors are actually reading "Garasu no Kamen".
There have been a lot of offers to make it into a movie or a TV show.
However, it is a very difficult material, because, in addition to its length,
it has so many plays contained inside. Also, it is hard to visualize for the media the endeavor
of two gifted actresses. For the same reason, I felt it was impossible to transform it into a stage production.
When I started working on "Garasu no Kamen", someone told me that there was an actress just like Maya. That was Shinobu Ohtake. Since then I have been watching her work closely and gradually, my perception of Maya became overlapped with her. Miss Ohtake said it is possible to make "Garasu no Kamen" into a theater production. That statement triggered me to start thinking more seriously about a theater version. The decisive factor was Mr. Tamasaburo Bando being chosen as a director. I felt that his long career as a premier Kabuki actor would give him superior insights for directing a stage production.
Mr. Bando and Miss Ohtake persuaded me to write a script myself. I enjoyed writing script immensely, for there was difficulty and joy, different from comics. I even enjoyed writing about plays inside the play. I was very pleased that all other casts were also skillful and talented actors. I was very lucky to be able to participate in this production despite various difficulties. In thirteen years of my work with "Garasu no Kamen", the theater world has changed quite a lot. There are a lot more theater companies, for one thing. In the near future, I feel that there will be even greater improvement and enthusiasm in this field.
1988 August. Suzue Miuchi.
"Kurenai Tennyo" - 2006 Noh Play
"Kurenai Tennyo", the Noh play.
Editorial supervisor: Suzue Miuchi.
Scripts: Shinji Ueda ("Berubara", Takarazuka!)
Director & Reviser: Rokurou Umewaka.
February 24th and 25th 2006
at National Noh Theatre of Japan.
2 shows on April 25th 2006,
Theater Drama-city, Umeda Arts Theatre, Osaka.
3 shows on May 15th and 16th 2006,
Le Theatre Ginza, Tokyo.
1 show on May 6th 2007,
Yamagata Municipal Hall, Yamagata.
1 show on July 6th 2007,
Shiga Prefectural Arts Theater Biwako Hall, Otsu.
1 show on September 1st 2007,
Minami Soma Municipal Cultural Hall, Minami Soma.
1 show on October 12th 2007,
Fukuoka City Museum, Fukuoka.
1 show on March 26th 2008,
Verte Foret, Shizuoka.
|Akoya / Kurenai Tennyo
|Sculptor / Isshin
|Man from the east
|Man from the west
|Small hand drum
|Large hand drum
|Kaneko Iwasaki (24-25/02/2006, Tokyo)
Natsuki Kuni, Takarazuka actress (25/04/2006 Osaka and 15-16/05/2006 Tokyo)
Enju, my Italian friend in Osaka watched "Kurenai Tennyo" the Noh play!
Below are her report and comments. Thank you, Enju!
The play starts with a woman wearing a kimono, who introduces herself as Chigusa Tsukikage.
She reads the first lines of the script of "Kurenai Tennyo", she talks about her passion
for theatre and for that play, and then she talks about Maya and Ayumi, who are competing to interpret it.
Then "Kurenai Tennyo" the play starts.
In the background is a curtain above which are red plum tree blossoms and the light of a red star shines.
Two men show up. They come one from the East, and the other from the West. They are scared and they complain about the disasters which are occurring: wars, earthquakes, volcanic eruption of Mt. Fuji. The red star which appeared announced the catastrophes! The two characters have a discussion: they tell each other not to go beyond the borders of each other's countries; but then they run away together, because when there are catastrophes it's better to help each other. It is a comic scene.
The red star disappears. Isshin shows up, wearing buddhist monk's clothes. The chorus, which sits at the right of the stage, tells the story of Isshin's mission and how he accidentally arrived at the Red Plum Trees Valley. A flute and 3 drums of different sizes are played to accompany the chorus. Akoya enters the scene while the chorus is talking about the arrival of Isshin at the valley and she stands on the stage in front of Isshin; the two just look at each other. Akoya is wearing a beautiful ivory colored kimono with a light orange belt and the well-known mask. Her hair is gathered in a long braid.
Isshin and Akoya exeunt. When they come on to the stage again, Isshin is wearing trousers and a golden rhomb pattern tunic, Akoya a simple long crimson kimono. Isshin lost his memory, Akoya took care of him, and the two fell in love. But... Isshin has a mission to accomplish! He has to create a statue with the wood of the sacred plum tree!
Isshin and Akoya exeunt again, and the two men of the East and of the West come on to the stage. There is an other comic scene: a flood and a tsunami occurred; again, they first quarrel and then they help each other to rebuild their villages.
It's Isshin's turn again. This time, he knows what his mission is. He holds a big hatchet... He approaches to the sacred plum tree. He has to cut it down but... Will he be able to do that? Will he sacrifice Akoya's life? On the other hand, love between a man and a goddess is forbidden... Isshin is about to cut the tree but he hesitates for a moment, he collapses and he caresses the tree. But, he can't help it. He screws up his courage and he hits the tree with the hatchet once, twice, three times... Crimson petals rain from above. Suddendly the curtain falls down and the Crimson Goddess who dwelt in the tree shows up (she was standing behind the curtain(. She wears the golden diadem and the kimono you can see in the poster. The goddess starts dancing holding a fan in her hand.
This is the last scene; Isshin and Akoya exeunt.
Enju's comments and impressions:
- The show was beautiful and involving!
- The fact that the actor was a man didn't disturb me, I noticed it only at the beginning but soon I almost forgot it.
- The costumes were amazing!
- Chigusa Tsukikage spoke modern Japanese, while in the rest of the play an ancient noh-styled Japanese was spoken, which was much harder to understand.
- In Noh theatre, there is not much action, but the most events are just told by the narrator.
- The last scene, where Isshin cuts down the sacred plum tree, was not shown in the manga. It turned out to be more or less how we (fans) expected it to be, but after that there was a long final dance, which was very charming.
I think the two most important elements in this Noh play are:
- Love (between the soul mates, Akoya and Isshin)
- The relationship between men and nature (all the catastrophes on Earth are a punishment from heaven)
- Japan Art Council.
- Shibata Minoru's Blog - category: Kurenaitennyo (Japanese only).
- Book "Shinsakunoh Kurenaitennyo no Sekai" by Mariko Hikawa, supervisor Suzue Miuchi, Hakusensha 2006 Feb.
Many very special thanks to SHION and GIKO CLARK for images and info about the 1988 play, to JUNKO, GO and ENJU for images and info about "Kurenai Tennyo" the Noh Play and to MASASUMI for his precious help with info and dates of the Noh Play!
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