Rakugo in English

Rakugo in English ? Japanese Traditional Comedy Monodrama

Rakugo, Japanese traditional sit-down comedy, returns to The Actors Studio by popular demand
following last year!

The Japan Foundation, Kuala Lumpur (JFKL) in collaboration with The Actors Studio & English Rakugo
Studies will present this Japanese traditional comedy theatre.

RAKUGO, Topper Storyin Literal meaning, is the monodrama with funny stories. Having its origin 16th
century and established during the Edo era (17-18th century), Rakugo became the country’s favourite
pastime in the late 1940’s.

This time, JFKL and The Actors Studio will bring the complete Yose (Rakugo theatre) experience ? the
combination of Rakugo and other funny traditional performances ? to Kuala Lumpur with only one exception ? language. This Rakugo performance will be performed in English to enable all Malaysians to enjoy the

What is RAKUGO?

Rakugo can be best described as Japanese “sit-down” comedy. Performers sit on a small mattress in front of the audience and act of stories with a comic style and structure. In RAKUGO, the performer can be narrator, but usually performs the actual characters of the story. These characters converse without a narrator coming between them. The challenge for the performer is switching from one distinct character to another. Each character represents exaggerated aspects of the human personality, which we can all relate to. The predicaments, which they find themselves in, are part of everyday life.
About RAKUGO performers

Rakugo apprentices of “Deshi” must stay three of four years with the Master either in Tokyo or Osaka.
They usually live in the Master’s house and do everything that the Master orders. They are not allowed to have any privacy and must learn everything following the Master during their stay in the “family”.
When the apprenticeship is completed, the Master gives them their names as a professional RAKUGO perfomer or “Rakugo-ka” by taking the family name of each “Rakugo-ka” family tree and one syllable from their own first name. For example. from the names, we know that KATSURA Kaishi & KATSURA Asakichi learned from the same”family”. A performer’s name immediately signals his artistic lineage.

There are a few “families” of RAKUGO performers, like Katsura, Hayashiya, Shofukei, Shumputei, Yanagiya etcbut about 650 professional Rakugo performers. However among these 650 performers, there are only 3 performerswho can perform Rakugo in English. They are Shofukei Kakusho, Katsura Kaishi and Katsura Asakichi. EnglishRakugo performances are most welcomed abroad because of the language used. This deepens the understanding of this traditional performing arts among foreign audiences.

This time, there will be 3 RAKUGO performers & a Shamisen (the three-stringed lute-like instrument) player.
RAKUGO performers: SHOFUKEI Kakusho
KATSURA Asakichi
Shamisen player: HAYASHIYA Kazume

Their performances in Kuala Lumpur last year had brought a lot of laughter to Malaysian audiences. Reflecting the very well response of the previous performance, The Japan Foundation brings them again to Malaysia to introduce this traditional performing arts to more Malaysians. They have performed in USA, Singapore, Australia, Thailand and so on. Kuala Lumpur and Penang will be two of their destinations for their 6th International Tour before heading to The Philippines. We don’t want the Malaysian audiences to miss the chance to have a good treat and experience the charms of “Rakugo in English”.


Date & Time: 2 (Tue) & 3 (Wed) September 2003, 8.30pm
Venue: The Actors Studio Greenhall
Ground Floor, Zhong Zheng School Memorial Centre
32, Lebuh Light , 10200 Penang
Presented by: The Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur, The Actors Studio & English Rakugo Studies
Supported by: Consulate-General of Japan in Penang

Date & Time: 5 (Fri) & 6 (Sat) September 2003, 8.30pm
Venue: The Actors Studio Bangsar
Level 3, New Wing, The Bangsar Shopping Centre,
285, Jalan Maarof, Bukit Bandar Raya, 59000 Kuala Lumpur
Presented by: The Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur, The Actors Studio & English Rakugo Studies
Supported by: Embassy of Japan

RM 35 (Adult), RM 15 (students & JKFL members)

Attn: Mr Seiya SHIMADA or Mr. Anuar Hamzah
Tel: 03- 2161 2104 Fax: 03-2161 2344

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