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Friday, Dec. 14, 2007

Two plays to cross the generations

Over the winter holiday entertainment season, two musical dramas stand out — one especially for children, the other for everyone, but both are tried-and-tested from previous premiere stagings.

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For children, the EN theater company is at last, after a 10-year interval, presenting "A Stormy Night" again, based on a best-selling 1994 picture book of the same name by famed children's writer Yuichi Kimura.

In this, one dark and stormy night, a goat and a wolf take cover in a cozy ruin deep in the country where, unable to see their companion, they keep each other's spirits up and become good friends. The next morning, when the storm has passed, they realize that they are not of the same species. The wolf is then troubled to find himself thinking that the goat looks like a "fantastic meal," while at the same time "being my pal."

What is real friendship? How does one understand others from a different background? This play, which brilliantly addresses these complex issues in a simple way for younger audiences, won several awards in the 1990s and is far from dated.

Meanwhile, for older audiences, "Ribon" — written and directed by 52-year-old Eri Watanabe, one of Japan's leading female contemporary dramatists — also returns this festive season, four years after its 2003 hit premiere.

Set in a postwar all-women apartment block (of which there were many, though they are now disappearing fast), this social drama swirls between past, present and future as it pitches different generations of Japanese women together in turmoil over their varied hopes as a new consciousness emerges. With lively music and songs accompanied by piano, bandoneon and violin, this is a stage to delight in — and also to fuel many interesting discussions during cross-generational seasonal gatherings.

"A Stormy Night" runs Dec. 20-28 at Theater X (Cai), a 3-minute walk from JR Ryogoku Station. For more details, call theater company EN on (03) 5828-0654 or visit www.en21.co.jp

"Ribon" runs till Dec. 24 at Kichijoji Theater, a 5-minute walk from JR Kichijoji Station. It then tours to Yokohama, Nagasaki and Saitama until Jan. 9. For more details, call Office 300 on (03) 5458-2605 or visit office300.moo.jp.

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