South African performance artist Jemma Kahn is bringing Kamishibai, the 12th century old Japanese art of story-telling, to Joburg in April. Kamishibai (paper theatre) originated in Japanese Buddhist temples where it was used by monks to tell stories with moral messages to a mostly illiterate crowd.
In the 1930s it became a form of children’s street theatre. Storytellers would travel from village to village on bicycle, telling stories with the use of illustrated paper panels and a specially crafted wooden stage. It is now regarded as the precursor to anime and there are less than 100 Kamishibai performers left in Japan today.
Jemma Kahn studied the art under the veteran performer Roukda Genji, with whom she performed throughout Japan. In her multiple award-winning The Epicene Butcher and Other Stories for Consenting Adults, Kamishibai is given a profane, hilarious and original revival. In the show, Jemma performs seven eclectic stories to a range of divergent themes from heaven and hell to pornography, gothic tragedy, Nelson Mandela and the dream life of cats.
The performance also stars Klara Van Wyk as Chalk Girl, is directed by John Trengove and was co-written by Gwydin Beynon. The Market Theatre in Johannesburg is proud to present the show from the 2nd to the 21st of April after its runaway successes at The National Arts Festival 2012, Amsterdam Fringe Festival 2012 and Musho! International Theatre Festival 2013.
Make your bookings here.
Video report by Kayla Roux and Amaal Salie via Rhodes University School of Journalism and Media Studies Youtube Channel.