This past summer I had the opportunity to do a workshop with the awesome Ichikawa Monnosuke VIII and his apprentice Ichikawa Takisho, two master performers of the ancient Japanese theatre form of Kabuki. This was definitely one of the highlights of my summer. I’ve gained a great appreciation for this ancient art form through this experience.

On the first day of class we jumped right into learning the aragoto form. I remember my thighs hurt after only the first day and I thought to myself, “Oh man this is just the first day. God help me.” However, to my surprise as the week went on and we all struggled and got confused, we still succeeded in learning the different acting forms. My favorite was learning the onnagata form from sensei. I thought “this one may be easier for me since I am a female.” I was wrong. This was the hardest to learn for me but when I finally got it, I felt like I was on cloud nine. I would go home and practice flipping my fan the right way and practice in front of the mirror while listening to music so that I had my timing down.

The last day of class was my favorite class. We practiced a bit before our friends and family came to cheer us on for our recital. What I remember from this class was looking at Monnosuke-san’s face while other groups were on stage performing. The look of genuine joy and happiness made me feel proud that we as a class worked enough to put a smile on our teacher’s face. This workshop was truly an experience to remember. I would definitely do it all over again!

Julia Joseph