It has been a year since I started rediscovering Rakugo.
I used the verb “rediscover” as I had so completely lost in touch with this Japanese tradition for nearly a decade.
In 2009, I did attempt introducing Rakugo to the New Zealand audience in a production called Asian Tales™: Native Alienz. I wrote an English script for “Mount Head” (頭山) and performed it at Herald Theatre in Auckland.
I enjoyed the whole experience of reconstructing a Rakugo story in English in a way that could be understood by English speakers. Then… as a man of insatiable curiosity… other creative interests took over, and Rakugo was forgotten.
Last year, I suddenly realised that I had spent about a half of my life in Japan and the other overseas in US and New Zealand.
I was officially a “half and half”.
I decided to explore Rakugo once again as I was curious to see what would happen to pursue it as a more-than-a-half-westernized Japanese.
The process of reconnecting with this uniquely Japanese storytelling is similar to a search for identity. It has helped me understand who I am.
I initially learned Rakugo as a teenager in Japanese in Japan, but now I perform it in English in New Zealand.
I have to admit that I am a little frustrated, though.
By the lack of my own motivation to actually produce a show.
Yes, I have been practicing it (almost) everyday, and I now have five stories to share: “Jugemu”(寿限無), “Karanuke”(からぬけ), “A Visit to Tenjin Shrine”(初天神), “A Summer Burglar”(夏泥), and “Mount Head”(頭山).
It is definitely a daunting task to learn Rakugo stories and also somehow produce a show by myself… in English… in New Zealand.
But it is about time.
To make it happen.
Oops, did I say that?