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Friday, Jan. 12, 2007
Noh encounters of the lily kind
By TAI KAWABATA
Richard Emmert, a professor at Waseda University and instructor in the Kita school of noh, will present a new play on Jan. 19 at Tokyo's Komaba Eminaasu Hall.
The noh play, titled "Manhattan Okina," will be performed in both Japanese and English with local actors performing alongside Emmert. Admission is free.
The play is about an old African-American man dying alone in Manhattan. When he feels the presence of the spirit of a lily and is taken to paradise, he encounters two old men -- one Hispanic, one Japanese -- who suffered a similar lonely fate as that of the main protagonist.
Emmert will chant an outline of the story in English in the melodic noh style. He will also play the noh flute. Makiko Sakurai, a shomyo (Buddhist chant) vocalist who wrote the play, will play the role of Okina, the main character. Jiro Sakuma, a noh performer of the Kanze school, will play the role of the lily spirit. Both actors will chant in Japanese.
The three will be accompanied by Jinya Imai, a tsutsumi (hand-held drum) player, and several other musicians.
In addition to the play, there will also be a performance of traditional Japanese music from the Heian Period (794-1185) to the Muromachi Period (1333-1568) by students of the Tokyo music school, Kunitachi Ongakuin.
The performance starts at 4:30 p.m. at Komaba Eminaasu Hall (tel.  3485-1411), near the West Exit of the Komaba Todai-mae Station on the Keio Inokashira Line.