It’s 6.30pm. The Arts House filled up quickly to a packed room. The audience chattered excitedly as light Japanese shamisen music played in the background. But once the lights were dimmed, the room fell silent in anticipation.
Shinoharu, the Rakugo performer, entered the limelight on the stage decked in a traditional Kimono. The performance began!
There was a lion, a tiger, a drunkard, a samurai, a sake merchant, a little boy, a teenage boy, a zookeeper, a mother, a father, a curious neighbour and the list of characters could go on. And all these were told and acted out by the lone storyteller Shinoharu. It was made more challenging as he performed kneeling. Rakugo story-telling is a unique form of comedy that tests the talents of the performer, and Shinoharu was brilliant – enthralling and amusing the audience with his vivid depictions, intonations and expressions.
It was a fun-filled evening of laughter!
What is Rakugo?
Rakugo is a long-standing Japanese art and tradition of telling silly yet funny stories that has been passed from mentor to disciple for over 700 years now. One might think: “Wow really? 700 years? Would these stories be outdated by now?” Judging by the amount of laughter last night, the audience found the stories to be timeless and relevant. And as Shinoharu remarked, the performer and audience co-create a world of relatable characters: the performer tells the stories and the audience imagines them.
Interview with Shinoharu
PeaTiX managed to interview Shinoharu before the show. His passion for the art was evident. He gave up the corporate lifestyle back in 2002 and has since entertained audiences all over the world. He has no regrets, saying it was the best decision he’s ever made. He advises all the budding artistes out there to follow their hearts and wherever their intuitions lead them.
Despite it being more difficult to convey in English what was traditionally told in Japanese, Shinoharu really enjoys delivering Rakugo in English. His motivation is to allow audiences to see another side of Japanese people and culture, to see that they are not as serious or reserved as we think them to be.
When asked to summarise Rakugo in one sentence, he provided a beautiful takeaway ”stories of ordinary folk leading ordinary lives yet made colourful and humorous with each person’s nuances, flaws and strengths alike.”
Shinoharu aims to perform in Singapore once every six months, so be sure to catch him the next time he’s in town.
It was a pleasure for PeaTiX to have hosted such an interesting and cultural event such as that of Rakugo on our ticketing platform.