Theater/Dancetraditional culture

[Director, Kunio Sugihara] Talking about the possibilities of classical performing arts and theater, dance, and stage


Kunio Sugihara is a popular director and stage designer who has worked on contemporary plays, Greek tragedies, Shakespeare, and Kabuki performances. At "What's SAMBASO: The Possibilities of Classical Performing Arts" to be held on July 23rd, we are planning a cross-talk about performing arts with a lecture by Yuichi Kinoshita, the leader of Kinoshita Kabuki, and a demonstration by Sennojo Shigeyama, the third Okura-ryu Kyogen performer. . This time, we will deliver a solo interview at the venue, Momijizaka Hall.

Inspired by my mother's invitation to watch ballet

――The Kanagawa Prefectural Youth Center celebrated its 60th anniversary. Who is coming to Momijizaka Hall?

Sugihara It's been seven years since I was invited to an event related to school theater called the "Kanagawa Prefecture School Theater Exchange Festival" in September 2016. But it's the first time I've seen a clean stage with nothing decorated like this, so it's a fresh feeling. It's a unique theater with a revolving stage of this size.

――As expected of a professional. Were you interested in the performing arts from an early age?

Sugihara: Ever since I entered elementary school, I have been watching ballet and kabuki touring performances and musicals by the Shiki Theater Company with my mother at the local Chigasaki Civic Cultural Center. I also remember seeing Yoko Morishita's ballet performance at the Kanagawa Prefectural Hall in Yokohama. When I went to a nursery school in Tokyo, when a puppet show or children's play came, I would make things while my mother was preparing dinner, and I would recreate it with my twin brother (laughs).

--That's great! There is a wide range of performances, from ballet to kabuki and puppetry.

Sugihara: My parents are from a world far removed from art, but when I wanted to see something, they immediately bought tickets and took me there. Perhaps he wanted me to let him come into contact with things he was very interested in from an early age and expand his possibilities.

――Do you still love art?

Sugihara: I liked playing outside, but I was good at drawing and crafting, and I loved it, so my art grades were always good. When I was in high school, I was always in a leadership position at school events, and I enjoyed working together towards a single goal and creating something together, such as at cultural festivals, sports festivals, and chorus competitions. A place where you can study such things, a place where you can have a cultural festival every day is a stage university! So I went to Kyoto University of Art and Design (now Kyoto University of the Arts) where I could study performing arts.

Everyday wasn't a cultural festival! ! A student who studied earnestly

Kunio Sugihara being interviewed at Momijizaka Hall

――You entered the university with the aim of being a creator, not a spectator or performer. How was it actually?

Sugihara: I can't do the Mainichi Cultural Festival (laughs). In many ways, it was different than I imagined. Of course, but more professional. At that time, there were many avant-garde and eccentric teachers in the Film and Performing Arts Department, and the teaching was unique and too stimulating (laughs). I learned that there are many perspectives and methods of expression by breaking down stereotypes.

――If you were to pick one encounter that left an impression on you during your school days, what would it be?

Sugihara: Of course, the playwright and director Shogo Ota was the head of the department at the time. “When you put something you create in a rehearsal room on stage, it becomes socialized by being exposed to the eyes of an unspecified number of people.” Therefore, artists should not forget that their expressions are always sent out to society. He was both strict and warm, and taught me how to behave as a theater person.

――It will stab you.

Sugihara: Well, I think that the range of my expression has expanded because I was able to learn from other first-class and respected teachers such as the dancer Setsuko Yamada and the playwright and director Takeshi Kawamura.

Realize the charm that can only be found in the performing arts

Third-generation Kyogen Noh performer Sennojo Shigeyama stepping on Sanbaso on stage

――This summer, Mr. Sugihara will be involved in "What's SAMBASO: The Possibilities of Classical Performing Arts" held on July 23rd here at Momijizaka Hall.

Sugihara: This project is a close-up of the play "Sanbansan/Sanbaso," which is often performed on celebratory occasions such as the opening of the kokera at the theater and the New Year. By learning about, watching, and thinking about the play "Sanbansan," I hope that you will enjoy and feel the possibilities of the classical performing arts nurtured in our country.
Click here for details

7/23 "What's SAMBASO: The Possibilities of Classical Performing Arts" Leaflet
7/23 "What's SAMBASO: The Possibilities of Classical Performing Arts" Leaflet

――The leaflet also says, “A picture book about dismantling the performing arts that schools don’t teach you.”

Sugihara: Art isn't about studying! It tends to be thought that the threshold is high, but when you know it, it's not like that at all. This time, you will learn about the program from an explanation by Mr. Yuichi Kinoshita, who I vouch for as being the most easy-to-understand and interesting lecture in Japan, and then watch a demonstration by the modern and energetic Sansei Shigeyama Sennojo. In addition, I would like to discuss the possibilities of presenting classical performing arts as contemporary performing arts and how to direct them, based on my past works and creative experiences. They never teach you this stuff in school lol

――It's a luxury to be able to learn directly from three people who are active on the front lines.

Sugihara: I think that if you want to express something, you have to be proactive about “knowing” or your range of expression will narrow. For example, I have worked on "Sanbansan / Sanbaso" twice so far for Kinoshita Kabuki, which is presided over by Kinoshita-kun, but I have always started from what I know first. Seeing Kyogen, Noh, Kabuki, and other performances of Sanbansan/Sanbaso, and bombarding the knowledgeable Kinoshita-kun with questions (laughs), my desire to know more overflows. Because I don't think you can create something new if you don't know the original program.

――It is necessary to “know” in order to create.

Sugihara: In this project, I also want to turn “knowing” into entertainment. I want people to know the joy and pleasure of knowing. I would like to convey this to the young people who will be responsible for the future of the performing arts world. Otherwise, art will remain a study forever. I want to tell people that our country's classical performing arts are so interesting and cool. For that reason, I feel that I am directing a classical program.

Kunio Sugihara talks about his thoughts in an interview @ Momijizaka Hall

――High school and university students and the younger generation.

Sugihara: I hope that going to the theater will be like going to an amusement park or going to karaoke. For example, when you go out to eat Italian, do you choose a family restaurant? Would you like to have a little luxury and make it a ristorante? Like, do you go to the cinema when you want to go see some entertainment? No, I have a little extra time this month, so it's like we're talking about going to the theater (laughs).

――Slightly extravagant, about stretching?

Sugihara To be honest, performing arts is an overwhelmingly extravagant form of entertainment compared to affordable, unlimited-viewing video streaming services. That is why, first of all, the performing side and the creator side must know the charm and possibilities that are unique to the performing arts. I think it would be great to have a project that makes you realize that again in the theater, and gives you the confidence to express yourself.

Kunio Sugihara talks about his thoughts in an interview @ Momijizaka Hall

60th Anniversary Kanagawa Prefectural Youth Center

Kanagawa Prefectural Youth Center on Momijizaka

"Kanagawa Prefectural Youth Center" comes into view when you go up Momiji-zaka in Nishi Ward, Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture. As one of the few general facilities for young people in Japan, it has been widely used by the citizens of the prefecture from November 1962 (Showa 37) to today.

The venue for this interview with Mr. Sugihara and for "What's SAMBASO: The Possibilities of Classical Performing Arts" to be held on July 23rd is "Momijizaka Hall", which has just completed its renovation. It also has a revolving stage, a small stage, and a temporary hanamichi, making it perfect for livening up performances of theatrical performances and traditional performing arts. Please look forward to the program "Sanbansan" that is suitable for the opening of the theater!

"Momijizaka Hall" after renovation work from 2022

Kunio Sugihara
KUNIO official website https://kunio.me/
Born in Tokyo in 1982, raised in Chigasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture.
Director and stage designer, head of KUNIO. Graduated from Kyoto University of Art and Design (now Kyoto University of the Arts), Department of Film and Performing Arts, and Graduate School of Arts. While enrolled in the department, he has been active mainly in directing and stage design, and in 2004 he established the production performance company "KUNIO" as a place to present his own works. In May 2006, Kinoshita Kabuki directed 10 works, including "yotsuya-kaidan" (written by Namboku Tsuruya), "Sanbaso" and "Kanjincho". From next spring, he will also be a lecturer at COCOON PRODUCTION "Cocoon Actors Studio".

What's SAMBASO - Possibilities of Classical Performing Arts
[Homepage] https://www.pref.kanagawa.jp/docs/yi4/kunio23.html
[Schedule] July 23, 2023 (Sun) 14:00 start
*Doors open at 13:30
* Preschool children are not allowed to enter
*For ticket holders under the age of 29, please present a certificate on the day.
* Due to production reasons, there will be times when you will have to wait to enter after the performance starts.
*Customers using wheelchairs or those with disabilities should contact us by phone.
Tel.045-263-4475 [Kanagawa Prefectural Youth Center Hall Management Division]
[Venue] Kanagawa Prefectural Youth Center Momijizaka Hall
[Fee] All seats reserved (tax included)
General 3,500 yen Under 29 years old 1,500 yen (available only on KUNIO official website )
[Ticket handling]
KUNIO official website (using the yahoo! Passmarket system)
Ticket Pia [P code: 519-943]
You can also purchase at Seven-Eleven stores.
[Performer] Sennojo Shigeyama III
Kunio Sugihara
Yuuichi Kinoshita
Flute: Ryo Noguchi
Kotsuzumi: Masahiro Sowa, Mitsuhiko Sumiko, Takashi Mori
Taiko: Dai Kawamura
[Staff] Stage Director: Yukihiko Fujita
Web: Kobayashi Taxi
Advertising art: Takashi Horikawa
Cooperation: Doji Company, Kinoshita Kabuki
Production cooperation: Samina Nakajima
Production: Hiroko Sakai
Producer: Miho Kobayashi
[Organizer] Kanagawa Prefecture, KUNIO, Inc.
[Contact] Kanagawa Prefectural Youth Center (Hall Management Division)
Tel.045-263-4475 (reception hours 9:00-17:00)
KUNIO, Inc. info@kunio.me

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