Bunraku

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Bunraku

  1. 1. Bunraku Ningyo jozu (puppet theater)
  2. 2. Bunraku - founded in Osaka in 1684. - also known as Ningyō jōruri (人形浄瑠璃) Three kinds of performers take part in a bunraku performance: 1. Ningyōtsukai or Ningyōzukai—puppeteers 2. Tayū—the chanters 3. Shamisen players
  3. 3. Puppeteers Composed of 3 people: Omo-zukai, or head puppeteer, who operates the doll's head and face by holding a stick with levers in his left hand, and with his own right hand also operates the doll's right hand Hidari-zukai, or left-hand puppeteer, who uses his right hand to operate the doll's left hand Ashi-zukai, or foot puppeteer, who uses both hands to suggest the movements of the doll's legs and feet.
  4. 4. Mechanism of the Puppets The heads of the dolls are carved of wood and are hollow, and they are placed atop a special head-grip stick (dogushi), which is placed through a hole in the shoulder board; it is with this stick that the main puppeteer manipulates the doll. There are lengths of fabric draped both in front of and in back of the shoulder board, and they are attached to bamboo hoops―it is a very simple mechanism. Loofahs are attached at either end of the shoulder board to create the roundness of the shoulders. The arms and legs are each attached separately to the shoulder board by strings, but, as a rule, female puppets do not have any legs at all―the foot puppeteer places his fists in the hem of the doll's robe and makes it appear as though she has feet and is walking. A long wooden armature (sashigane) is attached to the puppet's left hand, through the use of which the left-hand puppeteer operates the doll's left arm and hand.
  5. 5. Puppet Heads The heads (kashira) of the Bunraku puppets are divided into male and female, and then classified into categories according to the age, rank (social class), and distinguishing personality traits of the role they portray, and all of them have special names reflecting their special characteristics. If the play is different but the type of character is the same, the same head might be used for different characters in different plays.
  6. 6. Puppet Wigs The wigs in Bunraku as called kazura, and there are a number of fundamental styles, depending upon the type of character being portrayed. It is the job of the wig masters (called tokoyama), to sew and create an appropriate hairstyle (keppatsu) for every role, based upon these fundamental styles.
  7. 7. Costumes The costumes are designed by a costume master and are composed of a series of garments with varying colors and patterns. These garments typically include a sash and a collar as well as an under robe (juban), an inner kimono (kitsuke), a vest (haori) or an outer robe (uchikake). In order to keep the costumes soft they are lined with cotton. As the clothing of the puppets wear out or are soiled the clothing is replaced by the puppeteers. The process of dressing or redressing the puppets by the puppeteers is called koshirae.
  8. 8. Stage The musician’s stage (Yuka) This is the auxiliary stage upon which the gidayu-bushi is performed. It juts out into the audience area at the front right area of the seats. Upon this auxiliary stage there is a special rotating platform. It is here that the chanter and the shamisen player make their appearance, and, when they are finished, it turns once more, bringing them backstage and placing the next performers on the stage. The partitions (Tesuri) and the pit (Funazoko) In the area between upstage and downstage, the three stage positions, known as "railings" (tesuri). Located in the area area behind the second partition is often called the pit and it is where the puppeteers stand in order to carry out the puppets' lifelike movements.
  9. 9. Stage Small curtain (Komaku) and Screened-off Rooms (Misuuchi) This stage looks at the stage from the angle of the audience, the right side is referred to as the kamite (stage left), while the left side is referred to as the shimote (stage right). The puppets are made to appear and then leave the stage through the small black curtains. The blinded screens are just above these small curtains, and they have special blinds made from bamboo so that the audience cannot see inside.

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