Saturday, 20 November 2010

Urashima Taro

A few days ago I had the fortune of watching a performance of the story of Urashima Taro performed with human sized puppets in the style of the Japanese Bunraku puppets, aided by Kamishibai, a form of paper theatre also originating from Japan.

The story revolved around a poor fisherman, Urashima Taro, who was seduced by the beautiful but mysterious witch Lady Otohime, who encourages him to stay with her in her palace under the sea. However, things quickly turn sour and Urashima's dream of never-ending happiness and pleasure turns into a nightmare. After Otohime gives birth to their baby she ignores him completely. Urashima, as a result, decides to escape from Otohime's palace. However, he cannot escape from her vengeance.

Although the plot was not particularly mentally challenging, I was intrigued by the media used in the performance. Undeniably, it takes exquisite talent for someone to perform a whole story on their own. Indeed, the only human on stage was the actress playing the role of Lady Otohime. The rest of the characters were Bunraku puppets held by the actress on stage. Moreover, there was very little talking (it would rather be a monologue now that I come to think about it), but she successfully used her body language as well as some sounds that other characters were supposively making, to convey the atmosphere and information about the story. Very impressed indeed.

A video to give you a taste :)

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