Thursday 19 June, 20.00 hrs
TheSalon, Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy
free but please rsvp to cultureleambassade [at] lloydhotel [dot] com
Japanese stand-up comedy with Master Tōgetsuan Hakushu. English surtitles.
Contrary to the Western stand-up comedy, with Rakugo the comedian kneels on a cushion and does not move for the entire length of the story. All the Rakugo-actor uses as props are a fan and a handkerchief called tenugui.
Master Hakushu is a “rakugo-ka” (rakugo actor) of which today there are only 700 actors in the whole of Japan today, mainly in the Osaka and Tokyo areas.
Just like the Italian Commedia dell’Arte rakugo has its own set of characters that pop up again and again in various stories.
It is not easy to become a rakugo-ka. First of all, there is a lengthy ritual before a master takes on a disciple.
During the first three or so years, the disciple works as zenza. During this stage he learns everything at rakugo specialized theatres “Yose”. He serves as a backstage hand: folding up kimonos, handing out tea, playing the drum. On stage, he only does short stories. During these years of apprenticeship he is not allowed to date, drink or smoke.
Once his elders think he knows enough he is promoted to futatsume. He is allowed to wear a haori-jacket, smoke, drink and date. And he can do longer stories now.
After another 8-12 years of apprenticeship, he becomes shin-uchi, “Master”. In most cases one of the elders decides when the timing is right. In some cases there is also a test to become shin-uchi.
Once a rakugo-ka becomes a master, he can take his own disciples and, what is most important, that he can now be the last to go on stage at the yose-theatre. This privilege is mostly reserved to the eldest and those that are most popular.
Master Hakushu by the way is very popular. Tickets for his solo shows are very hard to get by in Japan, so don’t miss the show.