This week I went to see "Bilingual Kyogen".
It was Busu, a famous story, and performed by famous Kyogen actors from Kyoto.
Doji Shigeyama speaks excellent English and he started the performance by giving a 25 min. talk and demonstration about the history, staging and meaning of Kyogen.
Then he and two other actors performed Busu, a tale about a master who leaves two servants in charge of a mystery box.
He spoke English, and the other two actors spoke Japanese.
It was strange! Interesting. Strange.
He said: "We think you will understand enough of the story from hearing one character in English and seeing the gestures and actions of the others".
Well, I understand Japanese. Maybe I understood 70-80% of the Japanese in the play. So it is hard for me to really judge: If you didn't speak Japanese, how much would you understand?
i'm not sure a non-Japanese understanding person would understand enough. Specially as the English-speaking character in this play was the minor role. There was more information in the lines of the other servant.
In the past I've seen kabuki with scene description in English via headphones, and I once saw a musical sung in English - with Japanese subtitles on a screen at the side of the stage. Last year I saw rakugo by an amazingly bilingual storyteller.
It is hard to do a performance with enough language to communicate to an audience.
In the UK tourists usually go to see musicals, because they are entertaining without understanding 100% of the speaking. Audiences can usually enjoy opera in a foreign language, because the
How little language interpretation is too little in performance?