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Monday, March 4, 2013

桃太郎さん、桃太郎さん。。。

Things have been kind of quiet recently as the ongoing frustrations of trying to grasp the complexities of Mandarin Chinese combined with my relative lack of mobility, the result of last weekend's hiking accident on Old Rag Mountain. I'm feeling much better, with my left side feeling less and less stiff with each passing day, and I no longer think it's necessary to keep my elbow and knee bandaged up all day long. I'm still taking the muscle relaxers and painkillers, however, and tomorrow morning I have an appointment to see an orthopedist. Hopefully all will go well, as I'm dying to get back out on some trails, though I think I'll avoid for the time being those routes that require climbing over large boulders in order to reach the top.

One thing that Amber and I did do this weekend was to see a show at the Annette M. and Theodore N. Lerner Family Theatre, in Bethesda, Maryland. The performance we attended this afternoon was Anime Momotaro, an interpretation put on by Imagination Stage of an old Japanese folklore tale, Momotarō 桃太郎, know in English as the "Peach Boy". The most-commonly rendered version of the story goes like this (according to Wikipedia): 

 ...Momotarō came to Earth inside a giant peach, which was found floating down a river by an old, childless woman who was washing clothes there. The woman and her husband discovered the child when they tried to open the peach to eat it. The child explained that he had been sent by Heaven to be their son. The couple named him Momotarō, from momo (peach) and tarō (eldest son in the family).
 
Years later, Momotarō left his parents to fight a band of marauding oni (demons or ogres) on a distant island. En route, Momotarō met and befriended a talking dog, monkey and pheasant, who agreed to help him in his quest. At the island, Momotarō and his animal friends penetrated the demons' fort and beat the band of demons into surrendering. Momotarō and his new friends returned home with the demons' plundered treasure and the demon chief as a captive. Momotarō and his family lived comfortably from then on.

Today's performance, however, softened the tale quite considerably, making the ogres out to be misunderstood, rather than just being simply monstrous. There was also a nice moral added to the story about how one shouldn't bully others, as well as on the futility of using violence to solve problems. All of this was presented in a comedic and energetic fashion that all the children present, my daughter included, found highly entertaining. I enjoyed it as well, and thought the use of kōken 後見, those black-hooded stagehands seen in noh 能 and kabuki 歌舞伎 productions, to be a very clever touch to the production. 

Photography and video weren't allowed during the show, so I don't have anything to share from today's performance. You can, however, read a couple of reviews from the Washington Post here, and below is a clip courtesy of YouTube:


If you have children between the ages of 5-10, and Anime Momotaro rolls into your town, I highly recommend taking your little ones to see the show. They (and you) won't be disappointed (and if you haven't figured it out by now, it's in English!).

After the show, Amber posed with a couple of the actors. Here she is with Phillip Reid, who played several roles, including "Monmon", one of the ogres.

And here she stands next to Momotarō himself, Jacob Yeh.









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