The last we heard of ‘Bunraku’ around these parts was in 2011, when Guy Moshe’s star-studded pulp-noir film with Josh Hartnett and Woody Harrelson took us on an underwhelming and largely forgettable ride through Horseless Horseman Saloon. This month, we are again introduced to the 400-year-old traditional Japanese puppet theatre in the form of a Bunraku Company Minosuke-kai presentation, which is led by the celebrated Kanjuro Kiritake III.
Divided into a trio of parts, namely an interpretation of a harvest celebration dance, an excerpt of the ‘Fox in the Inner Garden’ folk tale and a behind-the-scenes demonstration, this showcase by one of the most revered names in the Bunraku fraternity is performed in Japanese with English subtitles. This special cultural performance, which celebrates the 40th year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation, sees teams of three puppeteers, in playing the tachiyaku male roles and onnagata female roles, taking on a single puppet with accompanying live traditional music and tayu vocal narrations. Wong Boon Ken