Japanese theatre captivated Košice

ECOC – Košice 2013 brought some Japanese flavour to Košice. An extraordinary experience was delivered by the Little Kyōgen Theatre Brno actors and true Japanese masters of their art. They even engaged the audience in the performance. People succumbed easily to this unconventional genre.


There were no props on the stage, only “maximalistic-minimalistic” backdrops. The actors were there on their own. They did not present the real world, but relied on the audience’s imagination. At the beginning, the theatre audience was explained in detail the Japanese genre, typical moves, laughing, thinking, facial expressions, etc. The brief humorous introduction engaged one spectator, who became part of the performance.

People always understand kyōgen after all

 The Little Kyōgen Theatre Brno actors offered the audience the Japanese farce “Boshibari” (“Tied to a Pole”). “We rehearsed it in 2010 under the leadership of our colleague who had lived in Japan for 10 years,” says Igor Dostálek. Every four years he organises a workshop where a kyōgen farce is rehearsed. Czech actors say it takes them about 10 days, but a complete performance requires up to two months. “Japanese actors rehearse one kyōgen for one year,” adds Tomáš Pavčík.

 Japonskí bratia v hre Buako. Veronika Cholewova

Despite the genre, which is still something new for the people, they have never experienced that the audience would not have understood the performance. “Although there is some language barrier, there are simple medieval jokes, the same intercultural elements and identical comedy features all around the world.”

Splinter in the foot – the most common injury on stage

Actors are almost barefoot, therefore their most common injuries include a splinter in the foot. “European stages are not as clean and smooth as Japanese stages that are smoothened and lacquered. So it happens every now and then that you get a splinter in the foot.” Actors also have aching joints because the seated position is more demanding and painful. They do not complain, but comment: “Everything is all right unless a lamp lands on your head,” laughs Karel Šmerek.

Kyōgen in their veins

Prípravy na javisko. Veronika CholewovaThe main stars of the evening, the Kyoto-based Shigeyama family’s actors – two siblings and their father – performed the Japanese kyōgen farce “Buaku”. The extraordinary viewing experience was enhanced by the actors´ native language, with Czech subtitles. The play began tragically and ended with humour. The combination of samurai traditions, Japanese art, tragedy and a great deal of humour was rewarded by frenetic applause.

Veronika Cholewová  

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