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art by Natsuo Ikegami :: pix by Glen Emil

Translation or Transformation: A Chat with Motoyuki Shibata

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A WorldCat view of Prof. Motoyuki Shibata's works

Looking for Gorey in the Land of the Rising Sun? Try these companies. Most display Japanese only*

Kawade Shobo

* and if your computer isn't set up for Asian languages, you may see a lot of question marks

I WAS all amazement to learn that a Chichibu (in the Kanto region, Saitema prefecture, est. population 71,000) theatre company has been touring Japan with Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, or the Town of Titipu since 2006. To think that audiences there might enjoy a not-so-subtle satire of British high Society dressed in kimono. It’s a fascinating bit of information, and I feed upon its irony. From the onset in 1885, The Mikado was deemed racist and offensive by some British critics. Even today, performances in America are often ‘adjusted’ to higher levels of cultural political correctness, as directors struggle to preserve the original play. Growing up among Japanese-American families in San Francisco, I often felt a twinge of guilt whenever I enjoyed even the most amateur productions of The Mikado as a young person and later as an adult. And I’m told the Chichibu troupe performances are given in Japanese. Imagine!

When His Imperial Highness Prince Komatsu Akihito [not of direct relation to the present Emperor of Japan], who, among other things had previously led armies in battle to overthrow the Tokugawa Shogunate and helped bring an end to samurai rule, attended an original performance of The Mikado in London in 1886, he found no offense at all, nor its depiction of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor (the Mikado) demeaning. Undetered, the British authorities banned The Mikado’s performance during another official visit by HIH Prince Fushimi Sadanaru in 1907, still convinced that insult and injury would be claimed. It was later learned that the Prince had hoped to see The Mikado during his stay in jolly old England. Today, audiences can enjoy these ‘insults’ at home, and in Japanese.

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2008 Illustrations by Natsuo Ikegami, Edward Gorey Charitable Trust and Goreyography+WZP. 著作権を所有します。