Bunraku in the Bay Area


Bunraku is a complex, artistic puppetry technique accompanied by narrative chanting and music. Each nearly life-size puppet requires three puppeteers to bring it to life.

SCE invited world-renowned bunraku puppeteer Kanroku and the Mokugusha Company from Osaka to perform in California in October and November.

Kanroku studied in Japan at the National Bunraku Theater in Osaka under Master Kanjuro Kiritake II, and was named Kanroku Kiritake in 1979. He then apprenticed under Minosuke Yoshida III, and was renamed Kanroku Yoshida in 1987.

Kanroku has been instrumental in the spread of bunraku’s cultural legacy. He teaches and directs all across Japan, and has invested time reviving farm village theaters in remote areas of the country.

Several bunraku performances will feature a special guest and collaborator, Native American artist Sage Andrew Romero, a member of the Tovowahamatu Numu (Big Pine Paiute) and Tuah-Tahi (Taos Pueblo) tribes. He is an accomplished hoop dancer and has traveled internationally, sharing the culture of his people through song, story, dance and art.

Upcoming events are as follows:

• Wednesday, Oct. 26, at 1 p.m. at Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, 1840 Sutter St., San Francisco, www.jcccnc.org

• Thursday, Oct. 27, at 6 p.m. at Berkeley Art Museum, 2155 Center St., Berkeley, www.bampfa.berkeley.edu

• Friday, Oct. 28, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Francis Solano Catholic School, 342 W. Napa St., Sonoma, www.saintfrancissolano.org; 2 p.m. at Adele Harrison Middle School,1150 Broadway, Sonoma, http://adeleharrison.org; 7 p.m. at Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, 551 Broadway, Sonoma, www.svma.org

• Sunday, Oct. 30, at 5 p.m. at 20995 Broadway, Sonoma (private residence). First performance will be a collaboration of the bunraku ningyo and dancers from Sonoma Academy of Dance. The second will be Kanroku and his company Mokugusha’s solo including the traditional and contemporary pieces. The third is a world premiere of a collaboration between Kanroku and Sage Andrew Romeo. Suggested donation: $10 for children, $20 for adults.

• Tuesday, Nov. 1, at 11 a.m. at Sonoma Academy, 2500 Farmers Lane, Santa Rosa, www.sonomaacademy.org

• Wednesday, Nov. 2, at San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, 1010 Broad St., San Luis Obispo, www.sloma.org. Tickets for 7 p.m. performance: $10 for adults, free for children. Tickets for 8 p.m. performance: $25 for adults, which includes light refreshments.

Info: www.sonomaculturalexchange.org/bunraku-performances

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