Sofia Puppet Theatre – again on tour in Japan with an exciting play

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Between 3 and 15 August 2023, 11 day and evening performances of the play The Story of the Seagull and the Gang of Tomcats [2] (in Japanese「カモメに飛ぶことを教えたドラ猫の物語」[3], literally: “The Story of Dora the Cat Who Taught Seagulls to Fly”[4]) will be held in just 12 days. The joint production is by Sofia Puppet Theatre and PUK Puppet Theatre「人形劇団プーク」. The stage adaptation of the novel The Story of a Seagull and the Cat Who Taught Her to Fly by Chilean writer Luis Sepúlveda is by Katya Petrova and Ina Bozhidarova. The translation into Japanese is by Rin Yamamura; director – Katya Petrova; assistant director – Yuriko Hayakawa; stage designer – Maya Petrova; music – Stoyan Royanov Ya-Ya; animation – Sotir Gelev, artistic lighting – Chikako Abe, sound – Yasushi Yoshikawa, stage manager – Ritsuko Ishida. The cast in 2023 includes the actors: Marieta Petrova, Rumen Ugrinov, Tatsuo Sato (Otera), Misa Obara, Ritsuko Ishida, Tetsuya Kodachi, Stoyan Royanov Ya-Ya (with live clarinet performances, percussion, vocals, etc.) and Susumu Shibata (“voice”) [5]. Each of the actors speaks their native language, and the subtitles are in Japanese and English. The dates and times of the performances are published on the official website of PUK Puppet Theatre (in Japanese). The first six of them will be presented between August 3 and 5 at PUK PT, Tokyo. The other five performances are scheduled for August 8 and 9 in Toramaru-dza Laboratory, Higashikagawa; for August 11 at the Cultural Centre of the town of Chiryu; and on August 14 and 15 at the Art Theatre of Aichi Prefecture, Nagoya.

Most likely, there are at least a few reasons that attract Japanese producers, performers, and audiences to The Story of the Seagull and the Gang of Tomcats. In the play, similar to the principles of Japanese traditional theatre and Japanese philosophy, the connection between nature and music is tangible, and music is the invisible (yin, in Japanese: 「陰」) beginning, the generator of the manifestation of the Related Arts. Royanov Ya-Ya’s music is highly communicative and certainly reflects the Japanese understanding of the heart – kokoro「心」[6], of the whole play. The plot, which addresses environmental ideas and interprets moral values, is also exciting. The original dolls made of special lightweight and extremely flexible tubes are also attractive. These dolls have associations with Japanese traditional theatre – for example, with the character of the Yamata no orochi[7] or The Big Snake (here translated by Dr. Petko Slavov[8]), defeated according to Japanese mythology by Susanoo-no-Mikoto, Amaterasu Omikami’s brother [9].

As is known, the creative collaborations between the Sofia Puppet Theatre and PUK Puppet Theatre date back to the 1960s and 1970s. The first visit to Japan of representatives of the Sofia Puppet Theatre (then Central Puppet Theatre) was made in 1975, and of PUK Puppet Theatre in Bulgaria – in 1976. In this sense, it is interesting and pleasant to feel the long creative cooperation between the two institutions in the masterful performance of one of the Japanese actors – Tatsuo Sato (Otera) – one of the important performers in the play The Story of the Seagull and the Gang of Tomcats. The same actor played in the first performances of PUK Puppet Theatre in Bulgaria as early as 1976. He still has vivid memories of his first visit to Bulgaria. Then, together with other Japanese actors and playwrights, they attended performances of the play “Carnival of Animals” to music by Camille Saint-Saëns, directed by Prof. Nikolina Georgieva. This is also the first meeting of Tatsuo Sato (Otera) with the tradition forgotten in Japan of the Kage-e Shadow Theatre (in Japanese: 「影絵」) and in particular – of shadow theatre with hands – Te Kage-e (in Japanese: 「手 影絵」). At first glance, it is paradoxical that his contact with these traditions takes place in Bulgaria and thanks to Bulgarian actors and director[10]. In continuation of such reflections, the subsequent and current interactions between artists from the two theatres, which have excited and continue to excite audiences in Japan, Bulgaria and other countries around the world, are not at all surprising. Here is the place to send good wishes both for the creative longevity of Tatsuo Sato (Otera) and for the success of all 11 joint performances of Sofia Puppet Theatre and PUK Puppet Theatre. Sending the best wishes to the entire Bulgarian team, which has been in Japan since July 15 – Petrova, Ugrinski, Royanov Ya-Ya, director Katya Petrova and Sofia Puppet Theatre’s director Ivan Raykov, for the play to excite the Japanese audiences and reach the kokoro (heart) of every spectator.

ブルガリアからのメッセージ 〜カモメに飛ぶことを教えたドラ猫の物語〜 – YouTube

A video address from Sofia Puppet Theatre to PUK Puppet Theatre from 2022, when, unfortunately, our team failed to travel to Tokyo and participate in the 50th edition of a festival (PUK Pupa Teatro) organized by PUK Puppet Theatre. This video with exciting ecological, creative and purely human messages is still available on the official website of PUK Puppet Theatre at the announcement of the upcoming joint performances of PUK Puppet Theatre and Sofia Puppet Theatre in August 2023 in Japan.

Photos: Sofia Puppet Theatre and PUK Puppet Theatre

Notes


[1] M. Tzenova is Assoc. Prof. PhD at the Institute of Art Studies – BAS.

[2] In the land of the rising sun. – Sofia Puppet Theatre. 2023, IN THE LAND OF THE RISING SUN! | Sofia Puppet Theatre (sofiapuppet.com)

[3] 「カモメに飛ぶことを教えたドラ猫の物語」. – Puk Pupa Teatro, 2018–2023,

カモメに飛ぶことを教えたドラ猫の物語 – プーク人形劇場公式サイト (puk.jp)

[4] See also Krasteva, Y. Sofia Puppet Theatre visits Japan. – Bulgarian Telegraph Agency, 2022–2023, BTA: Sofia Puppet Theatre Visits Japan (bta.bg)

[5] 「カモメに飛ぶことを教えたドラ猫の物語」…

[6] See also: Gvozdevskaya, D. A. Метафизика Востока в японском традиционном музыкальном мышлении. – В: Ориентиры… [Вып. 4. Отв. ред. T. B. Lyubimova]. Moscow: РАН, ИФ, 2007, 186-197.

[7] The transcriptions of the names of the Yamata no orochi, Susanoo-no-mikoto and Amaterasu Omikami are by: Ivanov, B. Mythology of Japan. Sofia: East–West, 2017,47-60.

[8] The translation is in connection with the work “Orochi Taiji” (“The Expulsion of the Big Snake”), presented in Bulgaria in two performances on 4 and 5 November 2016 at the National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts.

[9] See for example: Koziki. [Записи о деяниях древности. Свиток 1-й. Мифы. (Основной текст). Transl. E. M. Pinus]. Studydoc, 2017, ch. 14, 17-19, http://studydoc.ru/doc/2080889/kodziki–osnovnoj-tekst–perevod-e.m.-pinus-glava-1-kogda; Нихон сёки. Анналы Японии. [Transl. and comment. A. M. Ermakovoy and A. N. Mescheryakova]. Volume 1 [Свитки I – XVI]. St. Petersburg: Giperion, 1997, 140-144; Tsenova-Nusheva, M. The emergence of music and theatre in Japan according to Japanese mythology. Comparisons with the music and symbolism of Kabuki Theatre (歌舞伎). – In: Bulgarian musicology, № 2, 43-57.

[10] About the creative collaborations between Prof. Nikolina Georgieva, director, pedagogue, winner of prestigious international awards, and Taiji Kavajiri, longtime head of PUK Puppet Theatre, author of plays, director, guardian of the traditions of Bunraku and Sarukura theatre and reformer in the field of puppetry: Sinigerska, D. Identity and innovation. PUK Puppet Theatre in Sofia. – In: Narodna Kultura, XX, № 44, 30.10.1976, 4; Cultural Chronicle. – In: Septemvri, XXXI, № 132, 02.11.1976, 4; Gyorova, S. A Sorceress of Shadows. Nikolina Georgieva showed the small, modest puppet scene an art filled with a daring experiment. – In: Duma, 19.07.2007, https://duma.bg/vrachiha-godishnite-nagradi-zlaten-slon-n91168; Tzenova, M. Nikolina Georgieva, Maya Bezhanska, Petko Slavov and their contribution to the reception of Japanese traditional theatre in Bulgaria. – In: Art Readings. Vol. II. New Art. Sofia: IAS, BAS, 2022, 607-613; Kovachev, P.: Rumen Ugrinski plays with Japanese kittens in Tokyo. – In: 24 Chasa, 06.04.2018, https://www.24chasa.bg/ojivlenie/article/6798805; Japanese and Bulgarians bow at an angle of 45 degrees. – In: 24 hours, 05.10.2018, https://www.24chasa.bg/region/article/7084685; etc.

Sofia Puppet Theatre – again on tour in Japan with an exciting play

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