Some of the Pieces that Bunraku Bay Regularly Performs:
Kotobuki Shiki Sanbaso 寿式三番叟
A celebratory dance piece of divinely inspired puppetry that originated in masked Noh drama, the Sanbaso is meant to who purify the theater and scatter good fortune on the audience with lively gestures that mimic the planting of rice and also suggest felicitous creatures like turtles and cranes. But the piece also includes comedy because even a puppet charged with the solemn task of blessing a venue sometimes gets tired and needs to cool off after a taxing turn on the stage. The Sanbaso opens every Bunraku Bay performance.
Shishimai “Lion Dance” 獅子舞
The newest addition to the repertoire of Bunraku Bay Puppet Troupe is the Lion Dance, a piece performed throughout East Asia in a variety of forms. The lively and engaging Lion Dance brings good fortune to the audience–a lion bite on the head will confer intelligence on children and good health for the coming year. But the lion himself is not always so fortunate. His slumber is often disturbed by delicate but pesky visitors.
Hidakagawa Iriaizakura 日高川入相花王 渡場の段
The young woman Kiyohime is in love with a man who will not return her affection. In the scene at the crossing of the Hidaka River, Kiyohime entreats a boatman to ferry her across as she pursues the object of her obsession. But the grumpy boatman has been paid by the young man not to comply with Kiyohime’s wishes. Ridiculed by the boatman for her desires, Kiyohime becomes enraged when she learns the story of her intended love’s infidelity. Her demonic jealousy transforms both her heart and her form in ways that terrify the crusty boatman and ultimately spell doom for the hapless young man she pursues.
Yaoya Oshichi 八百屋お七 火の見櫓の段
Oshichi, daughter of the greengrocer, must relay information and a lost sword to her lover by dawn or he will die. But on this snowy evening with the gates of the city already secured for the night, she cannot reach him. Passing near a fire tower, Oshichi realizes that all the gates will be opened if a fire alarm is sounded. But the penalty for sounding a false alarm is death. Oshichi chooses to climb the icy tower to ring the bell, a testament of her devotion to her love.
Keisei Awa no Naruto 傾城阿波の鳴門 巡礼歌の段
This is one of the most popular scenes performed in the traditional puppet repertoire. In the “The Scene of the Pilgrim’s Song” Oyumi meets her daughter Otsuru, whom she had been forced to abandon as an infant ten years earlier in Tokushima. But now, because of the perilous situation of the girl’s samurai father, Oyumi must send her daughter away for the girl’s own safety without revealing that she is the mother whom her daughter is seeking. Naruto exhibits the pathos and engaging drama for which Bunraku puppetry is famous.
The Dance of Ebisu 恵比寿舞. The jolly fisherman diety Ebisu brings prosperity to businesses and households as he dances along the shore and sets sail in his boat to catch a giant sea bream, the most auspicious fish in the ocean.
Honcho Nijushiko 本朝二十四孝. The beautful young woman Yaegakihime must find a way to reach her love across the frozen Lake Suwa. Aware that foxes possess the magical ability to cross the ice safely, she appeals to the spirit of the fox diety for assistance. Living foxes and the fox spirit come to her aid in ways that the young woman likely never expected.
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