Nov 19, 2010

Synopsis of "Propose," A Chekov Play in Akita Dialect

Warabi-za takes its pride in representing Japanese folk traditions in forms of theatrical play. This time, they take a play written by Anton Chekov, a classic Russian playwright, with adaption to reflect the regional culture.

The content heavily reflects Semboku City's regional culture. The vernacular language plays a big part in this work, to an extent that some of the content is not transferrable in any other languages -- even in standard Japanese! This happens often in Warabi-za works as it was in Yamagami-sama no Okurimono, a play about bear hunters.

You will be given a handout with a word list of Akita dialect, which you may or may not be using. The Warabi-za works entertains audience beyond the languages, but reading synopsis might give lead you to a better understanding of the play.

"Propose" (Traler):

4 Charactors:

Old landlord who lives with his unmarried daughter. He desperately wishes her to find anyone to marry, because that would also allow him to marry his young girlfriend without any constraint.

Goro-zaemon’s daughter. She wants to get married but has nobody. She is self-centered and has strongest desire for a marriage.

Momoe’s neighbor. A man with rich career aspirations. He is preparing for the next election to become an assembly member in his village. He approaches Momoe to make a marriage proposal, but the situation makes an unexpected turn and become an argument.

Goro-zaemon’s fiancé. Her engagement to Goro-zaemon has not been anounced to Momoe yet, so that Miyako is brought to the house as a Tai Chi instructor. She wishes to have a passionate life with Goro-zaemon as soon as possible.

Synopsis of "Propose":

The story takes place in a town in Semboku City, Akita Prefecture. The Nishiki Family and The Kumasawa Family live next to each other.

The story unfolds from a scene in which Yasushi, a son of the Nishiki, approaches Goro-zaemon Kumasawa to get a permission of a marriage proposal to Momoe, Goro-zaemon's daughter; however, Yasushi is so nervous to reveal his intentions, so  that the father at first misunderstands that Yasushi came to borrow some money.

Later, Goro-zaemon understands the situation and happy to find out Yasushi's intention was to marry his daughter. He is even more delighted because that enables him to marry his girlfriend.

For this is a rare chance Goro-zaemon tries to match up his daughter with Yasushi, but Yasushi’s inability to communicate again becomes an obstacle. The fact that they are neighbors worsened the situation, bringing out arguments —now over the ownership of a mountain.
Miyako enters the scene and trys to intervene the situation but ends up a failure. Now Yasushi is told to get out of the house.

The Kumasawa cannot hold their anger against the Nishiki Family. Momoe, however, finally finds out Yasushi’s intention to marry her, so she starts to regret. Now Momoe desperately pleads to her father for bringing  back Yasushi. Her father is now completely perplexed.

Yasushi is brought back. Momoe now shows affections towards him. Momoe has a strong desire to get married, so she makes great efforts to reconcile the broken relationship. When Yasushi tells his experience in theater; Momoe is romantically hallucinating in the world of Cyrano de Bergerac.

The story seems to end happily ever after, but there comes another quarrel—now over their dogs!

Will Yasushi and Momoe ever get married?

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