Monday, February 23, 2009

Kabuki Actor Matagoro Nakamura Dies At Age 94

Kabuki actor and National Living Treasure, Matagoro Nakamura died of natural causes on Saturday, March 21st at the age of 94.

Born in 1913, Nakamura was the son of a Kabuki actor and had his own debut on stage in 1921. In addition to performing Kabuki, he acted on screen and dedicated himself to teaching young Kabuki actors as well as lecturing overseas to raise awareness of the traditional art form. He had the grace and skills to take on almost any role in Kabuki, specializing in supporting roles. In 1997, he was named a Living National Treasure.

Website: The Japan Times

1 comment:

  1. Greetings.

    I had the great good fortune (as did several of us) to spend a year training with Matagoro sensei at the University of Hawai'i in what is still one of the best years of my theatrical life.

    What I remember most clearly was the day, after class, when Russell and Elizabeth had questions about their scene together as Heimon and Okaru and the emotions involved as Heimon tells Okaru about Kampei’s death. (from the kabuki play Chushingura)

    There were several of us there, sitting next to Matagoro in the dance studio, as he started to explain the scene. Then he said, “Here, let me show you.” and without a moment’s hesitation he launched into the scene, acting both parts with full emotional intensity. It was an incredible performance, unlike any I had ever seen before or since. Here was a true artist working at the very height of his powers and his talents. It was pure acting without relying on props, or costumes or stage setting to carry the scene but doing so entirely with his acting. And when the scene was finished, he smiled and asked, in a calm matter-of-fact tone, “Do you understand now?”

    I have seen many great performances (granted, mostly on film) by some of the world’s greatest actors, but nothing has ever equaled the sheer skill and artistry I saw that morning.

    Kabuki has lost a great artist, and we from out side the kabuki world of Japan have lost a true friend who supported our quest to better understand this art form not just as scholars but more importantly as fellow artists.

    The march of time was bound to bring this day, but the reality of it still hits hard.

    Best of luck to you.