27th September 2013: Bunraku at Teatro Español (Madrid, Spain)

Oh, Gods, this was an odyssey. Seriously, can’t we just figure out print-at-home tickets? When the announcement for the event came up, I got tickets. I actually called my parents to ask them if they wanted to tag along, and they said yes, so I bought three tickets. There were only two performances, and the tickets were selling out fast.

Let me start at the beginning – the announcement involved the Sugimoto Bunraku 2013 European Tour. Bunraku [文楽] is a type of Japanese theatre that uses puppets to perform about serious topics, mostly classic dramas (as far as I know). The puppets are dressed in amazing costumes and manoeuvred by artists dressed in black as if to become invisible. Sugimoto’s company is collaborating with The Japan Foundation to show this art to the world, in this case holding a European tour with the play.

Anyway, back to track: I bought the tickets, and the next step was actually getting them. I had to go to a cashpoint to get them printed (because, again, print at home? It seems to be for lesser beings), which was not easy as I was living in a small town at that point. On top of that, I got the wrong bank cashpoint at first (≧▽≦). Sometimes excitement gets the best of me, but in my defence a) I did not even know the actual bank existed and b) the mistaken bank had a similar name. And on top of that… in the end my parents decided not to come at all! In the end I gave the tickets to my cousin and her kid, who were curious about the whole thing.

We met up in Madrid, in front of the theatre Teatro Español, where the event took place, and it was interesting to see how the whole thing was sold out. The work that was performed is called Sonezaki Shinjū, which translates to The Suicidal Lovers of Sonezaki, or the Love Suicides of Sonezaki, written by Chikamatsu Monzaemon in the early 1700s. It tells the love story of a poor merchant and a courtesan. When the merchant is set to marry off another woman, tragedy ensues until the two of them decide to die together in the forests of Sonezaki Shrine. I’ve actually got myself the book (well, my cousin insisted on getting it for me as thanks for the tickets) to read, as there were no subtitles on the play, just a summary brochure.

Even though I’m no fan of the whole romantic drama thing, I have to admit that the music and the puppets made the whole thing eerily captivating. Aside from the puppeteers, the key figure in the play were the musicians and the narrator, which explained (in Japanese) and narrated the play. The way the puppets are dressed, the shamisen and koto music, and the way you see the puppeteers and yet not see them is super cool. Unfortunately, no pictures allowed that I can show you.

Afterwards, we met up with my cousin’s husband (I did try to get a ticket for him, but it was too late already) and we… had McDonald’s, because that’s what we do when he hang out.