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The Selfish Giant

The Valiant Chattee-Maker
The Valiant Chattee-Maker

Momotaro
Momotaro

Rinkitink
Rinkitink

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Momotaro

Cover art for Momotaro

Music and Text by Robin Donald Graham
Adapted from a Japanese fairy tale
(Work in Progress)


 Introduction Minimize

This play was originally conceived in the style of Bunraku, the classic puppet theater of Japan. In Bunraku a narrator and a shamisen player sit in front of the scene at stageleft. The narrator tells the story, taking all the speaking parts, while the shamisen player plays an accompaniment. Percussion instruments and sound effects are produced from backstage.

In this play, the shamisen and percussion are replaced by a pre-recorded tape of electronic music which includes many Japanese musical sounds. Some of the music for this play is based on Japanese children's songs. The narrator takes all the speaking parts, changing his voice to suit each character. He can be very animated while wearing the persona of each character, but must remain in his sitting position.

Behind the narrator sits a chorus. All of the chorus parts are generally sung or chanted with a soloist sometimes singing for a character on stage. This arrangement will allow for microphones in fixed positions and will greatly simplify the maintaining of proper balance between the pre-recorded music and voices. Instead of puppets, the players can be dancers sometimes imitating the very stylized form of Japanese dance.

The stage will usually be bare. Props will be moved on and off by stagehands dressed all in black so as to be "invisible". The back and side walls of the stage should be black.


 The Story Minimize

Once upon a time, long, long ago, there lived an old man and an old woman. The old man went to the mountains to gather firewood. The old woman went to the river to wash clothes. While the old woman was washing the clothes in the river, a large peach came flowing and splashing down the stream. The old woman picked up the peach and returned home.

When the old man returned home from the mountains, the old woman showed him the peach. The old man said happily, "Well, well, this is an unusually large peach." When the old woman went to cut the peach, it fell into two parts and a large baby boy was born into the world. Because he was born from a peach, the old man named the boy Momotaro. (Momo means "peach" and taro is a suffix which used to be added to the first born son's name, but nowadays is often added to any boy's name).

Little by little, Momotaro became big and strong. One day, Momotaro said to the old man and the old woman, "Please prepare some kibi-dango (millet dumplings) for me because I am going to Ogre Island to conquer the ogres." The two prepared the kibi-dango for him. Momotaro left, full of courage.

After travelling a little, Momotaro met a dog. "Momotaro-san, Momotaro-san, where are you going?"

"To Ogre Island to conquer the ogres."

"What is that hanging at your waist?"

"The best kibi-dango in all of Japan."

"I'll serve you if you'll give me one."

The dog, receiving a kibi-dango, became Momotaro's vassal and went with him. After travelling a little more, they met a monkey. "Momotaro-san, Momotaro-san, where are you going?"

"To Ogre Island to conquer the ogres."

"What is that hanging at your waist?"

"The best kibi-dango in all of Japan."

"I'll serve you if you'll give me one."

The monkey, also receiving a kibi-dango, became Momotaro's vassal. Travelling a little more with the dog and the monkey, this time they met a pheasant. "Momotaro-san, Momotaro-san, where are you going?"

"To Ogre Island to conquer the ogres."

"What is that hanging at your waist?"

"The best kibi-dango in all of Japan."

"I'll serve you if you'll give me one."

The pheasant, upon receiving a kibi-dango, also became Momotaro's vassal.

Momotaro, with the dog, the monkey, and the pheasant following him, arrived at Ogre Island. The ogres' castle was protected by an iron gate. The pheasant, flying around, looked over the enemy's terrain. The monkey easily climbed over the gate and went inside and opened it. Momotaro and the dog invaded the castle. The pheasant flew rapidly around, pecking at the ogres' eyes. The monkey and the dog tormented the ogres by scratching and biting them. Momotaro, taking out his sword, attacked the ogre leader. The ogre leader fought very hard, but was finally defeated. All the ogres fought Momotaro bravely.

Momotaro said, "Don't kill people or take their things anymore. Instead, help them."

Momotaro forgave the ogres. In gratitude, the ogres gave Momotaro various treasures. Momotaro, taking the treasures, withdrew from the island.

The dog pulled a cart with the treasure piled on it. The monkey pushed from behind. The pheasant helped pull with a rope.

They returned valiantly home shouting, "Enyara-ya! Enyara-ya!"

The old man and the old woman met Momotaro and they lived happily ever after.


 Translation

Momotaro was translated by Robin Donald Graham from Shogakko Kokugo Tokuhon (Grammar School Japanese Language Textbook) published in December of 1932. Translation copyright © 1989 by Robin Donald Graham. All rights reserved.


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