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Bunraku performances scheduled for Anton Chekhov International Theatre Festival 2009
(June 30 to July 8)
The Love Suicides at Sonezaki
© H. Kawahara
This summer’s Anton Chekhov International Theatre Festival 2009 in Moscow will feature invited performances of traditional Japanese Bunraku puppet theater (ningyo joruri). Jointly organized by the Japan Foundation, these performances will be the first ever in Russia. Bunraku is a traditional puppet theater form combining narration by the tayu vocal artist, shamisen musical accompaniment and puppetry. The high level of artistic value achieved in the Bunraku tradition was recognized internationally in 2003 when it was designated a World Heritage by UNESCO, and it stands alongside Kabuki and Noh as one of Japan’s three proud traditional forms of theater. The play to be performed is The Love Suicides at Sonezaki (Sonezaki Shinju) by the great 17th century playwright Monzaemon Chikamatsu. Known as a masterpiece of the sewamono (genre) plays of Bunraku, this play is based on a tragic love affair between an Osaka courtesan named Ohatsu and a soy sauce shop employee named Tokubei. Eight performances of this play will be held between June 30 and July 8 at Moscow’s Pushkin Theatre.
The Love Suicides at Sonezaki
© H. Kawahara
Bunraku play The Love Suicides at Sonezaki, performed in Russia
Dates: June 30 to July 8, 2009 (Total of 8 performances, none on July 5)
Venue: Pushkin Theatre
Play: The Love Suicides at Sonezaki based on the play by Monzaemon Chikamatsu, adapted by Matsunosuke Nozawa (Three scenes)
Performers: Sakitayu Toyotake (tayu), Seisuke Tsurusawa (shamisen), Kazuo Yoshida (puppeteer), Kanjuro Kiritake (puppeteer), and others
Organizers: Chekhov International Theater Festival 2009, the Japan Foundation, the Embassy of Japan in Russia
Support: Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs
Sponsorship: Japan Airlines, JTI
Production: Bunraku Association

Festival Outline:
The Anton Chekhov International Theatre Festival was launched in 1992 as a mainstream festival featuring representative Russian theater works by such prominent figures as Chekhov and Stravinsky. Since the first holding in 1992, the festival has undergone numerous changes, and this year marks the 8th holding in its nearly 15-year history. Over the years the festival has presented works by such leading theater figures as Peter Brook, Ariane Mnoushkine, Pina Bausch and Robert Wilson, and from Japan productions by Tadashi Suzuki and others have been invited.
 The 2009 program will include performances of 22 works. With a special focus on France this year, there will be seven French production including one by Philippe Genty. From Asia, will come the first Japanese Bunraku performances ever staged in Russia, a joint Japan-Russia production of Electra directed by Tadashi Suzuki, Peking Opera performances by the National Guo Guang Opera Company from China and the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan.
+Anton Chekhov International Theatre Festival
Dates: May. 26 to Aug. 2, 2009
Venues: Pushkin Theatre, etc.