Sunday, March 2, 2008

I'm lately a Ragkugo star

If I wasn't a local celebrity in Tahara before last night, I certainly am one now.

I went to a rakugo show last night at the cultural center. Before I even got into the theater to take my seat, my friend Hideaki asked if I could please raise my hand when they asked for volunteers. Japanese adults are very much like my Japanese students in that they don't like raising their hand and volunteering for anything. I reluctantly agreed.

The show itself was both entertaining and educational. Rakugo is a traditional form of Japanese comedy that involves a man, a pillow, and a microphone. He tells a story with only a fan and a towel as props and he plays all the characters by himself. You know it's a different person talking because he turns his head slightly and the voices and gestures change from character to character. Lucky for me, this rakugo show was put on by some Japanese-Canadians so it was mostly in English.

My favorite part of the show was the more modern magic section. The last trick involved two wooden bunnies, one white and one black, that the magician "magically" changed colors. It involved him putting covers over them, then asking someone in the audience what color it was, and then when he put it back on the table, he not so subtly turned it around. At the end, people in the front were asking to see the backs of the bunny. "You want see back of bunny? I say, NO!" In the end, he finally let us. "I see you back of bunny." But when he turned them around they were red and yellow. It was a clever trick, and his English was cute.

After the magic show, they taught the audience some rakugo. They made us pretend we were slurping udon noodles. And then they asked for volunteers. A small boy jumped at the chance to go up on stage, so I was off the hook.

Until they asked again.

No one raised their hand, so slowly I looked back at Hideaki and put mine up. I thought I was going up to slurp my non-existent udon, but the guy apparently changed his mind and had me do an entire story. So in front of everyone, I changed characters, made silly gestures, and told a joke about ice cream.

Several junior high students were there, so I know what they'll be talking about next week. And already I have an email from one of my adult students complimenting me on my performance. This in addition to all the people who came up to me afterwards last night and told me good job.

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