87-year tradition of "Hawai'i Kabuki" at UH Mānoa continues

“The Vengeful Sword” is a true community collaboration

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Tracy E. Robinson, (808) 956-2598
Publicity Director, Dept of Theatre and Dance
Marty Myers, (808) 956-2602
Theatre Manager, Dept of Theatre and Dance
Posted: Mar 18, 2011

Kabuki production of “The Vengeful Sword" at UHM's Kennedy Theatre Apr. 8-24. Photo: Reece Farinas
Kabuki production of “The Vengeful Sword" at UHM's Kennedy Theatre Apr. 8-24. Photo: Reece Farinas
The University of Hawai’i at Mānoa’s Department of Theatre and Dance is proud to continue its long-standing tradition of “Hawai’i Kabuki” on Kennedy Theatre’s mainstage with the English-language production of “The Vengeful Sword” (Ise Ondo Koi no Netaba) by Chikamatsu Tokuzo. Marking its 31st kabuki at the University, this collaborative endeavor, involving experts from the community and guest artists from Japan, enables students who have come to UH from all over the US, Asia, South America and Europe to learn of this great tradition first hand. Translated and directed by UHM faculty member Julie A. Iezzi, with the collaboration of 60-year Hawai’i Kabuki veteran choreographer Onoe Kikunobu, “The Vengeful Sword” will be performed Apr. 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23 at 8 p.m. and Apr. 17 and 24 at 2 p.m.
“The Vengeful Sword” is a traditional kabuki that tells of a samurai in search of an important missing heirloom sword and what happens when he discovers its bloodthirsty nature. Fully staged, beautifully costumed, with live authentic music, stylized fighting, and everything from love to comedy to high drama, this kabuki will be the first presented in seven years and continues the 87-year tradition of Hawai’i Kabuki.
“There is a great deal of psychological drama in this play,” explains Iezzi. “Duty and honor underlie the actions of all the ‘good’ characters.  We often imagine the dutiful samurai (played by James Schirmer), but in “The Vengeful Sword” we also encounter the extremely dutiful woman (Evelyn Leung), willing to sacrifice for the love of that samurai. Add in a conniving teahouse madam (Meg Thiel), the comic foil (Jillian Blakkan-Strauss) and a few ne’er-do-well samurai, set it all in a brothel near the Grand Shrine of Ise, throw in tachimawari (fighting scenes) along with interactive audience participation, and you've got a great evening,” Iezzi added. Audience members will also have an opportunity to purchase a special edition Hawai’i Kabuki tenugui (Japanese hand towel).
Hawai’i Kabuki exists because of community involvement and this year’s production is no exception. “The combined years of experience of community members involved in this production is phenomenal--almost 200 years!” states Iezzi. “If you toss in the sum total of years of the guest artists coming from Japan who have worked with UHM, that number jumps to about 270,” she added. 
Onoe Kikunobu who began her training with Japanese kabuki troupes that toured to Oʻahu in the 1930s, is production choreographer, a role she has been performing for UHM since the 1950s. Assisting her is Onoe Kikunobukazu, a long-time veteran, who will also lead the nagauta shamisen ensemble. George Wago will lend his decades of expertise as wig master and makeup trainer, while Shirley Miyamoto and Marion Kanemori will be training and assisting the students in dressing the actors. From Japan, visiting nagauta musician Kineya Wakichi, worked closely with community shamisen players, while Hamatani Hitoshi, former stage manager at the National Theatre of Japan,isteaching painting and construction techniques for set and props during a five week residency. Kashiwa Senjiro, Kikugoro Theatre Troupe musician, formed a tag team with Honolulu’s own Kenny Endo, of Taiko of the Pacific, to train students in the specialized percussion.
The 2010-2011 Kabuki Training, Outreach, and Production of “The Vengeful Sword” is made possible with partial support from the Consulate General of Japan in Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Japanese Studies Endowment, and the Hawai’i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.
Tickets are available online now at www.etickethawaii.com, at outlets, by phone at 944-2697 and at the Kennedy Theatre Box Office. Purchases may be made at the Kennedy Theatre Box Office Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. with extended hours on days of performance. Prices are $22 regular; $20 seniors, military, UH faculty/staff; $15 students; $5 UHM students with a validated Spring 2011 UHM photo ID. Ticket prices include all service fees. For more information or disability access, call the Kennedy Theatre Box Office at 956-7655.
WHAT:                           “The Vengeful Sword” (Ise Ondo Koi no Netaba)  
PRESENTED BY:            UHM Department of Theatre and Dance
WHEN:                             Apr. 8, 9*, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23* at 8 p.m.  
                           Apr. 17 and 24 at 2 p.m.
*Free Pre-show Chats: Sat Apr. 9 and 23 at 7:00 p.m.
                                           April 9: Dr. James Brandon, Professor Emeritus of Theatre & Dance
                                           “The History of Hawai’i Kabuki”
                                           April 23: Travis Seifman, dramaturg
                                           “The Real Story Behind the Play”
WHERE:                     UHM's Kennedy Theatre, Mainstage
TICKET PRICES:      $22 regular; $20 Seniors, Military, UH Faculty/Staff; $15 Students; $5 UHM Students with a validated
                                    Spring 2011 UHM Photo ID; all service charges included in ticket price.
TICKET INFO:           Tickets are available online now at www.etickethawaii.com, at outlets, by phone at 944-2697 and at the 
                                    Kennedy Theatre Box Office. Call 956-7655 for more information or visit www.hawaii.edu/kennedy.
UHM Student Buy-One-Get-One-Free Nights:
Apr. 14 and 21 at 8 p.m.; tickets available beginning at 5 p.m. with a validated Spring 2011 UHM Photo ID

For more information, visit: http://www.hawaii.edu/kennedy