22 July 2006

Bunraku Theatre performances in Melbourne

The renowned National Bunraku Theatre of Osaka will be performing in Australia next month. This ancient Japanese puppetry tradition began in 1684, when Takemoto Gidayu set up the theatre in Osaka. Bunraku today is enjoying a revival. In 1966 it gained what it did not have in almost 150 years when the opening of the National Theater in Tokyo gave it a permanent home. In 1985 this home moved to its origin, Osaka, with the opening of the National Bunraku Theater. Currently there are four performances each a year in Tokyo and Osaka plus a yearly travelling show. The popularity of puppeteers Yoshida Tamao, Yoshida Minosuke and Yoshida Bunjaku helps fill the theaters and the number of younger patrons has begun to rise in recent years. Still, though audiences are important, the aging of the all- important backstage workers - head carvers, costume makers, etc. - and the lack of people to take their place poses an increasing problem for the future of this 300 year old art form. My favourite Bunraku website, with photos and video can be found here!

The performances are being held at the National Theatre, St Kilda on Saturday, 12th August at 7.30pm and Sunday, 13th August at 3.00pm. For bookings, contact

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