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Tamasaburo Bando Biography

  • Profession: Actor, Director, Choreography
  • Born: Apr 25, 1950
  • Died: Jan 1, 0001

One of the most famous "onnagata" performers in Japan, Tamasaburo Bando began his theatrical career at the age of six when he began studying Kabuki with Kanya Morita. Onnagata are men who perform female roles. Their goal is to not so much play women as convey the essence of femininity through their performances. It is a discipline which requires literally a lifetime of training, and the greatest onnagata, throughout Kabuki's centuries-long history, have been among the most revered celebrities in Japan. Bando is unique in that he has consistently applied his onnagata techniques to classical Western theatrical roles such as Desdemona, Lady Macbeth, and Medea. He is also one of the few onnagata to regularly work in film, both as an actor and a director. In his film acting work, he typically works with inventive directors who share his desire to stretch the boundaries of onnagata performance. His first film role was in [[Performer~P111255~Masahiro Shinoda~masahiroshinoda]]'s 1980 [[Feature~V89119~Demon Pond~demonpond]], in which he played a dual role as a shy, humble village wife and a flamboyant mythical creature known as the Dragon Princess. He also starred in Polish director [[Performer~P115731~Andrzej Wajda~andrzejwajda]]'s [[Feature~V133862~Nastazja~nastazja]], an avant-garde Kabuki adaptation of the final chapter of [[Performer~P309039~Fyodor Dostoyevsky~fyodordostoyevsky]]'s novel The Idiot, and choreographed a Kabuki dance to accompany cellist [[Performer~P44082~Yo-Yo Ma~yoyoma]] in [[Feature~V161771~Yo-Yo Ma Inspired by Bach: Struggle for Hope~yoyomainspiredbybach:struggleforhope]]. His most involved and experimental collaboration was with Swiss director [[Performer~P110236~Daniel Schmid~danielschmid]] for [[Feature~V135013~The Written Face~dasgeschriebenegesicht]], an impressionistic cinematic portrait of Bando featuring extensive footage of his stunning Kabuki performances. On his own, he has directed the features [[Feature~V240292~The Operating Room~gekashitsu]] and [[Feature~V224730~Yearning~yumenoonna]]. ~ Tom Vick, Rovi


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