Watching someone sit for a long period of time who tries to portray at least two characters with nothing but a handkerchief and fan as props is not uncommon among Japanese. That’s the nature of Rakugo and what rakugoka, or lone story tellers, do to deliver this Japanese form of entertainment before an audience. What’s unusual though is seeing a Western dedicate himself to the art but that’s what Canadian Greg Robic is actually doing as he embarks on a tour to introduce the ancient humour to North America.
The 43-year old Canadian, who goes by the Rakugo name Katsura Sunshine, will begin his North American tour on August 30 and end on October 5. Rakugo is an ancient art that requires discipline in order to deliver a performance. Greg Robic learned the art as an apprentice of renowned rakugoka Katsura Bunshi, whose real name is Kawamura Shizuya. Bunshi is also a board member of the Kamigata Rakugo Kyoukai, a rakugo artists and performers’ guild in Kansai Region. Sunshine has been learning rakugo under Bunshi for five years. “I hope you will spread my rakugo around the world. I hope you will shine overseas much like your name ‘Sunshine,’” Bunshi told his apprentice.
Sunshine made the announcement of his North American tour last Wednesday at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. His first stop will be Richmond, B.C. on the 30th followed by Vancouver the next day. Calgary, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, and Toronto will be his other British Columbia cities scheduled for August. “The first half is kind of like stand-up comedy where you just do your own material and the second half, you do a very traditional story,” Sunshine on describing rakugo. He is embarking on this tour to also test if Japanese humor translates well into the English language or if it is something that is inherently cultural.
[via The Asahi Shimbun]
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