Performances of Bunraku, Japan's renowned professional puppet theater, are slated to take place in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City next week in celebration of the 45th anniversary of Vietnam-Japan diplomatic ties.
Six young leaders of Bunraku Co. from the Japanese city of Osaka will introduce Bunraku demonstration and performance to Vietnamese audience in the southern metropolis on July 12, and the capital on July 14, according to The Japan Foundation Center for Cultural Exchange in Vietnam.
The program, not recommended for children under 12 years old, is to be held at San khau The gioi Tre, 125 Cong Quynh Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, and the Youth Theater Vietnam, 11 Ngo Thi Nham Street, Hai Ba Trung District, Hanoi.
The traditional Japanese puppet theater was staged for the first time in Hanoi in 2014.
It not only marked a historical first appearance in Vietnam, but also paved a way to a new collaboration between Japan and ASEAN countries through traditional puppets.
Ranking with Noh and Kabuki as one of Japan’s foremost stage arts, Bunraku, fully known as the Ningyo Johruri Bunraku puppet theater, is a blend of sung narrative, instrumental accompaniment and puppet drama.
The plots related in this new form of puppet theater derived from two principal sources - historical plays set in feudal times, or Jidaimono, and contemporary dramas exploring the conflict between affairs of heart and social obligation, or Sewamono.
Bunraku had adopted its characteristic staging style by the mid-18th century with three puppeters, visible to the audience, manipulate large articulated puppets on the stage behind a waist high screen.
From a projecting elevated platform, the narrator recounts the action while a musician provides musical accompaniment on three-stringed spike lute. To solely dubs all characters voice in a play, one narrator has to change different voices and intonations.
Although the narrator “reads” from a scripted text, there is ample room for improvisation.
Approximately 160 works out of the 700 plays written during the Edo period have remained in today’s repertory. Nowadays, the aesthetic qualities and dramatic content of the plays continue to appeal to modern audiences.