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Sada Yacco and her husband, Otojiro Kawakami appear in London and Paris during 1900

October 20, 2013

Sada Yacco (1871-1946), Japanese actress and dancer, as she appeared in the role of the geisha in La Ghesha et le Chevalier at the Théâtre Loïe Fuller during the Paris 1900 Exposition Universelle.
(photo: Nadar, Paris, 1900)

Sada Yacco, her husband, Otojiro Kawakami and other members of the Japanese Court Company from Tokio were also seen in London during May 1900 in a series of matinees at the Coronet Theatre, Notting Hill Gate. One of the pieces they performed was the two act The Geisha and the Knight (La Ghesha et le Chevalier).

‘In the first act a knight (not the, one Banza, repairs to the Geisha quarter, a locality abounding in lanterns and peach blossom, to entertain himself. He summons a dancer, a musician, and a singer, and seems to be in for a festive evening, when there suddenly flashed upon his vision Katsuragi the Geisha! Katsuragi is graceful, lovely, exquisitely feminine, and, when she intimates to Banza that she does not desire any of his attentions, Banza feels inclined to go and brain somebody. The fact is that Katsuragi’s affections are bespoken by the good knight Nagoya, a noted Samurai, and when these two lovers enter together the wrath of Banza knows no bounds. He strikes the end of Nagoya’s sword and his own – a deep insult. Nagoya tries at first to appease his anger – ”Lady,” as Mr. Sparkler [in Dickens’s Little Dorrit] remarked, ”so much hopes no row.” But Banza will not be appeased, and a desperate fight ensues, Katsuragi at last, however, contriving to part the combatants. That ends the act. The second takes place outside the temple gates of Dojioji, the temple itself being inhabited by low-comedy monks. Hither come Nagoya with Orihime, his betrothed wife, whom he had only temporarily forgotten whilst infatuated with Katsuragi, and Katsuragi follows hard after the pair and dances herself, in an exquisite dance, into the good graces of the low-comedy monks, who dance with her and twirl parasols. Katsuragi lets down her hair and has a violent ”woman’s scene” with Orihime, and finally dies of a broken heart in Nagoya’s arms. In the part of Katsuragi Mdme. Sada Yacco is very fine indeed, deliciously coquettish in the early scenes and quite terrific in the later.’
(The Sunday Times, London, Sunday, 27 May 1900, p. 6a/b)

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