Now many of the Covid restrictions are gone here in NZ, it is finally time for me to get back to stage!
However, I have unfortunately had to turned down a few rakugo performances because the stages offered were not suitable to perform rakugo.
This inspired me to write this article about an ideal environment for performing rakugo. I am not too fussy about the appearance or size of the stage, but there are some important requirements that need to be met.
Please read this first if you are planning to invite me or the rakugo club to an event 😊
The most important thing I need to emphasise is that rakugo is a form of theatre.
It is an art that attempts to paint pictures in the audience’s minds with only words and very few props without any elaborate sets or costumes. It is only possible when both the performers and audience can concentrate on the stories without interruptions. It is, in fact, the audience members who depict pictures in their own heads. Rakugo can only exist in partnership between the performers and audience members.
This means that rakugo performers need:
- A quiet, enclosed space where both performers and audience can focus only on rakugo. This means a stage near stalls or people walking around isn’t suitable. Outdoor performances should generally be avoided unless it’s a purpose-built space like an amphitheatre.
- A space where performer’s voice can easily travel such as a theatre, a school classroom, a lecture hall, etc. If the space is large, you might need a microphone as rakugo simply does not work if the performer’s voice can not be heard clearly…
You might have noticed by now, but this is just like any other theatre performance.
But the beauty of rakugo is that it requires very little as long as the conditions above are met.
All you need is a zabuton (Japanese cushion, which I will bring), a red cloth (which I will bring), and perhaps a place to hang up a mekuri (a calligraphy with the performer’s name; I often hang it off a music stand).
Looking forward to hearing from you! My schedule is very empty as of today 😁
vera46, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons