Monday, December 19, 2011

A famous Okinawan Play Performer Mr. Kochu Makishi has passed away

I grew up in Yomitan village and used to go out to see Okinawan Theater plays (Uchina Shibai in Okinawan dialect). Okinawan Shibai became a huge hit in commercially in the late 19th century. My uncle Y. Kamiya was a Shibai actor, which is why I used to watch many theater plays via TV and the theater groups called Mura Shibai (村芝居)that came to my village 。

One of greatest Theater actors, his name was Kochu Makishi, passed away last week; he was 88 years old. I have never forgotten his appearance on the stage. I probably went to see theater plays because of his appearance; I wanted to see his handsome face. I was probably 8-10 years old when he was at the peak of his career as an actor. My grandmother used to ask me, "why you go to see Shibai evey time they are playing theaters near us? You won't remember their stories forever, you know," but I didn't care about that, and rushed to the theaters anyway to see Kochu Makishi's play. I was too young to understand the story, but I was big fan of Kochu Makishi. I may not remember any of the stories, but I will never forget Mr. Makishi's handsome charanctors.

He was a member of Sango Za, which included 6 highly-skilled full Kumiodori actors and dancers including Nozo Miyagi, the ground master of the Miyagi Ryu School.

There is a saying that "Nothing will last the same way forever." However, I hope that Okinawan Shibai and Hogen (dialect) will last forever. Mr. Makishi once said about Okinawan Shibai, "unless actors understand the dialect, his or her acting will be souless, and this kind of souless acting will disappear some day." What a powerful comment, I totally agree with his comments.

Nowadays, many dancers and actors trying to manipulate audiences by imitating the Okinawan performing arts all over the world. The truth is, I am not so impressed by those imitating our performing arts, and neither are audiences. Soulless performances can't last long.  He left a message saying "do not forget your own language" and passed away.

Mr. Makishi was devoted to performing in Okinawan plays, according to the article. He was designated as important intangible cultural Asset of Okinawa Prefecture as a Kumiodori member.  He also taught Okinawa Shibai and Okinawan dialect at the University of Ryukyu.

Learning the Okinawan dialect is so important to me as an Okinawan traditonal dancer. Let's try to learn Okinawan dialect from now on.

Here is a copy of the article on Kochu Makishi from the Okinawan newspaper Ryukyu Shimpo:

2011年12月19日 09時24分

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