Thu, Dec 12, 2019

Eugene Chaplin sees Koshiro’s Chaplin kabuki at the National Theatre in Tokyo

Kabuki star performs “Komori no Yasusan” based on “City Lights”

Eugene Chaplin shakes hands with Matsumoto Koshiro X on stage at the National Theatre (Photo courtesy of National Theatre)

Eugene Chaplin, the fifth child and fourth son of Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) came to the National Theatre in Tokyo on Wednesday (Dec. 11, 2019) to see kabuki star Matsumoto Koshiro X (the tenth) perform “Komori no Yasusan (Yasu, the Bat),” a kabuki theater adaptation of “City Lights,” the much admired silent romantic comedy from the 1930’s featuring Chaplin’s famous Tramp.

“Komori no Yasusan” was first performed in the kabuki theater in August 1931, barely a month after a serial novel by the same title started running on The Yomiuri Shimbun, the national daily now operating the TSUMUGU: Japan Art & Culture web portal.

What’s surprising is that the novel, which based its story on “City Lights,” appeared three years before the silent film premiered in Japan in 1934.

Playwright Kinka Kimura had collected tidbits of the film and learned that the story involved a tramp who fell in love with a blind flower girl. Observing that Chaplin’s Tramp had similarities with Komori no Yasugoro, a widely known character from the kabuki world, the writer decided to adapt the story into a novel with Yasusan as its protagonist. The kabuki adaptation was based on this novel.

Eugene, who saw the Wednesday matinee, visited Koshiro on stage after the performance and gave the kabuki star a pat on the back saying he was “very touched.”

Koshiro cordially responded by saying, “It had always been my dream to play this role and I’m really glad I’m finally doing it.”

When Charlie Chaplin visited Japan for the first time in 1932, he went to the Kabukiza Theatre in Tokyo and had met Koshiro’s great grandfather, the then Nakamura Kichiemon. Knowing his father’s great fondness for kabuki, Eugene seemed rather emotional.

“Like the original City Lights, it was very funny, the humor was there, the emotion was there … there’s nothing much else to say … it was perfect!”

Asked if he was reminded of his father watching Koshiro perform, Eugene said: “Here is living proof that (Chaplin movies) can be transported to different cultures and still be funny. He (Koshiro) added the Japanese touch to it, but kept the Chaplin spirit.”

Koshiro had his angle: “On stage, it doesn’t feel like I’m performing something of foreign origin.”

Eugene later added that the final scene gave him the goose bumps. He is convinced that if the performance goes to Europe, “People will like it and recognize it.”

Matsumoto Koshiro X’s “Komori no Yasusan” performance at the National Theatre commemorating the 130th anniversary of Charlie Chaplin’s birth will last until Dec. 26.

Program A, which includes “Omi Genji Senjin Yakata: Moritsuna Jin’ya” starring Koshiro’s father Matsumoto Hakuo, will open every day (except Dec. 13) at 11:30 a.m.

Program B, or Chaplin KABUKI NIGHT, which features “Komori no Yasusan,” will open at 7:00 p.m. on Dec. 13, Dec. 20, Dec. 24 and Dec. 25.

*No subtitles available.
*English synopsis is included in the paid Japanese program.

For further information and tickets:

Outline of the event

Schedule

〜Thu, Dec 26, 2019

Venue

National Theatre
4-1 Hayabusa-cho,
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Admission

Program A (tax included)
“Omi Genji Senjin Yakata: Moritsuna Jin’ya”
“Komori no Yasusan”

Superior Grade→Adult: 12,800 yen (Student: 9,000 yen)
1st Grade A→Adult: 10,000 yen (Student: 7,000 yen)
1st Grade B→Adult: 6,500 yen (Student: 4,600 yen)
2nd Grade A→Adult: 5,000 yen (Student: 3,500 yen)
2nd Grade B→Adult: 2,800 yen (Student: 2,000 yen)
3rd Grade→Adult: 1,800 yen (Student: 1,300 yen)

Program B (tax included)
Chaplin KABUKI NIGHT
(Dec. 13, Dec. 20, Dec. 24, Dec. 25)
“Komori no Yasusan”

1st Grade→Adult: 6,000 yen (Student: 4,200 yen)
2nd Grade→Adult: 2,800 yen (Student: 2,000 yen)
3rd Grade→Adult: 1,800 yen (Student: 1,300 yen)

Opening hours

Program A→11:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Program B→7:00 p.m. - 8:35 p.m.

Contact

Box Office (Japanese and English)
Tel. 03-3230-3000 (10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.)

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