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Kabuki: Moritsuna Jinya

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Oki no Kami
Oki no Kami
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Joined: 14 May 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 19, 2013 2:03 am    Post subject: Kabuki: Moritsuna Jinya Reply with quote
The other day I saw on TV Moritsuna Jinya (the surviving scene from Ômi Genji Senjin Yakata). I had never seen it before, but it is very famous. Rather than an ensemble piece, with dancing, etc., it has a lot of very demanding individual roles.

It is about Sasaki Takatsuna (Sanada Yukimura) and his brother Moritsuna (Nobuyuki) during the siege of Sakamoto in Ômi (Ôsaka). (Despite the setting, a pistol makes its appearance near the end.)

"The character of Takatsuna…dominates the whole play. He is a man of great ruthlessness and brilliance, with the power of holding the devotions of lesser men…His brother's love for him is the theme of the play." "It is essentially an actor's vehicle, the role of Moritsuna being considered one of the finest in Kabuki." (Halford, The Kabuki Handbook) The role of Moritsuna's old mother, who tries to persuade her young grandson to kill himself for the sake of his father Takatsuna is considered one of the top old-character roles. And certainly the role of Takatsuna's son must be one of the most difficult child's roles. The piece of comic relief of a messenger is short but demanding. And then Hojo Tokimasa (Tokugawa Ieyasu), a frightful jiji who stalks on with few words but plenty of stage presence. Even with the setback of time, I am surprised that the Edo-period censors allowed the divine ancester (神祖) to be portrayed like that.
The only character that doesn't demand much from an actor is that of Takatsuna (Yukimura)--he does not appear at all.

By the way, Nobuyuki did not participate himself in the Siege of Osaka, though he sent his sons. Given that he maintained close ties with his father and brother during their exile in Koya that was probably easier for everyone.
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