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Somegoro Ichikawa VI (long)
Posted by: StageDoorJohnny 05:06 pm EDT 04/19/17
In reply to: Festival of International Quixotes - AlanScott 12:53 pm EDT 04/19/17

I saw Somegoro-san and he was wonderful, even tho' he'd learned the role by rote out of the 11 Quixotes I saw, Michell was my favorite, then Holbrook, Somegoro, Kiley. I liked Dabdoub a lot -- my least favorites were Alan Jones (tour) and Howard Keel (summer stock)
I know this is long, but it's an interesting quote from Somegoro Ichikawa VI (his son is VII):
Yes. I did “La Mancha” in Japan and then I was asked to perform it on Broadway. Of course, I couldn’t speak English. But, by coincidence, just two or three years prior to that, my father had gone to New York to teach kabuki to a group of Broadway actors — he taught “Kanjincho.” Anyway, when the Broadway offer came, my father mentioned that one of the actors who had been in the Broadway kabuki was in Japan at the time. I called him up and he said that because my father had taught him kabuki, he would gladly teach me the English dialogue for “La Mancha.”

Did you remember it all?

Well, I don’t know if you’ll understand this, but kabuki is basically all about imitating. All the styles of speech and delivery of dialogue, you learn by imitation. I had been imitating since the age of 3, so I had this American actor standing in front of me delivering lines in wonderful English, and I imitated him. That doesn’t exactly mean that I was consciously memorizing the lines. It means I was able to learn the English in exactly the same way that I had become accustomed to learning kabuki. I think a contemporary theater actor might not have been able to do the same thing.
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