Article: Canadian rakugo performer enjoys extended theater run in New York

“NEW YORK–“Rakugo” comic storyteller Katsura Sunshine is confident the centuries-old form of verbal entertainment can make the whole world laugh.

The 50-year-old Canada-born thespian has settled in for a long run at an off-Broadway theater, performing his “Kamigata” (Osaka-style) rakugo show in English.

The show is currently on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Sunshine has managed to captivate Western audiences with the traditional Japanese form of comedy.

“Everyone bursts into laughter, even without explanation,” Sunshine said.

He made his off-Broadway debut in September last year, performing twice a day, two days a week, at a theater with a capacity of 350. To make his entrance flashy, he even added hip-hop beats to “debayashi,” a short piece of instrumental music played when performers come on stage.”

There is a certain amount of disagreement when a traditional art form is taken up in new ways. The form of rakugo (a traditional form of Japanese comedy) in the article above is done in English by a non-Japanese performer. Some Japanese traditionalists are not a fan of this new type of rakugo. Some question the value of a traditional art done in a foreign language.

With November 2020 TOK Essay Prescribed Title #1 and this RLE a key element of the investigation would be to see why both sides’ arguments (traditionalists and non-traditionalists) need equal attention.