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WORLDBUILDING: The World of the Kagayou Theater

Brock's Pikachu
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Some backstory and information about the theater troupe featured in "The Brilliant Diamond Stage" and some upcoming stories...

What is the Tawame style of theater?

The Tawame style of theater is a larger than life ancient theater that was (and still is) popular across Waku (the super-region that Kanto, Johto, Houen, and Shinou are a part of in my imagined Pokeworld). It is characterized by epic plots (many of which prove that plotlines seen in The Legend of Zelda and similar games actually have ancient origins in this Pokeworld), martial arts with flowery names that border on magic, elaborate sets and costumes, music, dance, stage combat, and acrobatics galore, and even aquatic acts and live Pokemon (though most Pokemon are portrayed as gijinkas by live actors, or puppets)

While many places across Waku have at least one troupe in residence (which may have several subtroupes), many more travel around the world.

The Tawame theater also has a devoted following in other parts of the world, with many of the thousands of known plays translated into English, Kalosian, and other languages every year. There is a growing demand for them to be performed in other languages, but most troupes across Waku will perform them in English.

A Tawame play often runs for much longer than a typical Western musical, so fans should be prepared for a three to four hour experience. Many plays often run longer than that, but many of the longer plays often have abridged versions that cut unimportant or irrelevant parts of the story. Many plays also have school appropriate versions for school Tawame troupes to perform

High adventure, excitement, and happy endings are the order of the day in the Tawame theater--it is very bad luck to portray tragic endings on the Tawame stage.
 
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The Kagayou Theater

The Kagayou Theater is a Tawame troupe based in Pallet Town, Kanto. The company's name can mean "shimmering" or "sparkling", referring to the lavish dazzling productions they perform. In addition to many successful shows around Kanto, they have successfully toured Kanto three times, Shinou and Kalos, with more tours in other regions and at home in Kanto to come in the future.

The company is divided into seven troupes--the Niji (rainbow) troupe, where our heroes perform; the Akai (red) troupe; the Mikan (orange) troupe; the Kii (yellow) troupe; the Midori (green) troupe; the Aoi (blue) troupe; and the Murasaki (purple) troupe. This means the company has seven shows going at one time. Each troupe has their own schedule of shows, but there are certain times of year where all seven troupes work together to put on a grand joint production.

When the company is touring, they stay for a week at each theater, allowing each troupe to put on a unique show. However, if the week is very successful, the company will be asked to stay longer.

Our heroes play specific roles within the Niji troupe:

--Ash and Serena are the lead actors for the troupe (the lead male actor is the yuushi; and the lead female actor is the eiyuna.), meaning they will typically play the main parts. Sometimes someone different will play the lead, but they still play an important role in the story.

--Misty tends to play strong heroic female roles (known as bushihime, or "warrior-princess" roles). Sometimes, she will play the lead, but typically her characters are allies, guardians, gods, and spirits.

--Brock will usually narrate the plays, but he is technically a houkaku actor. Houkaku literally means 'wanderer', but in the Tawame theater, it means an actor or actress versatile enough to play many different types of roles. This means that Brock can narrate one play, play a comic role in another, and the hero in a third play,

--May tends to play sweet natured and softspoken hime roles; but she can also play comical, or doukeshi roles, and the occasional heroic role.

--Dawn is also a houkaku performer, like Brock; but she tends to gravitate towards strong female roles like Misty.
 
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Ash, The Yuushi

As the yuushi, or lead actor, of the Niji Troupe along with Serena, Ash is easily one of the faces of the troupe, often appearing with Brock and Serena to promote the company. He enjoys playing bold and brash characters, as much as he enjoys comical and energetic characters. But for all the power his roles tend to bring, he knows when his role has to be quiet, reflective, and/or serious. But even in the quiet moments, his courage and joy in making people happy shines through in every role he plays, recurring character or not.

Many say that Ash is the very picture of the yuushi in the Tawame theater--powerful, yet gentle, brave and yet wise; and an unflinching commitment to doing the right thing--even if that means stepping on a few toes along the way. He has a powerful voice, wields the bansi (the ancient Wakunese flute similar to the Chinese dizi) as easily as the knuckle, the sword and the bow, and his characters will do everything they can to see truth, justice, light, and goodness prevail, often alongside the eiyuna or some other kind of sidekick.

Ash's skills as the yuushi include:

--voice (high tenor)
--flutes (both the side blown bansi and the end blown kidi)
--
dancing (both alone and with a partner.)
--stage combat (unarmed, sword, and bow)
--acrobatics (his signature move is a trampoline leap he calls "the fireball", but fans have nicknamed "the Sonic" due to its resemblance to Sonic the Hedgehog--or Sonic the Zoroark, as he is called in this Pokeworld; gathering speed)
--Pokemon skills (his faithful Pikachu Tintri will occasionally appear in a show, in addition to a few of his recurring characters being Pikachus)

Some of Ash's recurring characters include:

--Suzaku the Red Phoenix (one of the Four Guardian Gods of mythology)
--Son Goku (the Infernape trickster of 'Journey to the West' fame)
--Tachigami, the sword wielding Noble Pikachu of the Zodiac
--Kongou, a sword wielding Shiny Pikachu
--Takuya, an incarnation of Suzaku the Red Phoenix (one of many such characters he plays)
--Akaya, a bold and courageous swordsman who can channel magic through a flute
--Chun, the Red Dragon (an incarnation of the red dragon mahjong tile)
--Touki, an energetic and happy-go-lucky member of the Demon Slaying Corps who is as skilled with a flute as he is with a sword
--Kakusei, the hero from the Kantonian epic martial arts novel "The Travels of Kakusei and Kouyou"
--Akiteru, one of his recurring phoenix characters that typically awakens from a ruby
--Kaname, a ninja of the Fire Clan
--Taira no Koremochi, a samurai remembered in Wakunese history as "The Demon Slayer" for slaying many monsters and evil people

Ash has also tried his hand at writing and directing a play, successfully writing and staging the play "Silver Sorcerer of the Song". While he did enjoy directing, he won't be giving up acting anytime soon.
 
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Misty, the Bushihime

Within a Tawame play are girls that would rather fight than wait to be rescued, and prove handily that a girl can be a hero as much as a guy--they are the bushihime. Literally meaning "warrior-princess", this role type is a specific subtype of the eiyuna, usually serving as a companion, sidekick, or some other kind of major support role. In some plays, they may be the female lead. But not all bushihime are bold and brash roles, like the yuushi and eiyuna--some of them are gods, spirits and larger than life guides to the rest of the cast.

For Misty, she relishes playing the bold and brash form of the bushihime, but also knows better than to upstage Ash, Serena, or anyone else playing the lead parts. She also enjoys playing dragons. and dragon-born characters, many of which prefer to wield the twin blades, in addition to fighting unarmed and with one handed sword. Some bushihime roles may also require archery proficiency too. Thanks to her love for the water, she tends to also play water gods and spirits.

Misty's skills as a bushihime actress include:

--voice (alto)
--fiddle/violin (it is becoming increasingly common to see the modern violin on the Tawame stage in place of the tikin, the traditional Wakunese three stringed fiddle. Misty is not opposed to playing a number from her vast repertoire of traditional tunes if there is a delay in the performance)
--dancing (both alone and with a partner.)
--stage combat (unarmed, sword, twinblades, and bow)
--acrobatics (mainly to add flair during fights)
--aquatics
--Pokemon skills (some of her Pokemon seen in shows include Ariel the Vaporeon, Mele the Primarina, and Ami the Marill)

Some of Misty's recurring characters include:

--Seiryu the Blue Dragon (one of the Four Guardian Gods in mythology)
--Toyotama (the daughter of Seiryu that serves as the Noble Gyarados in the Pokemon Zodiac)
--Sha Gojyo (the water-priestess from 'Journey to the West')
--Mizuka, a wandering warrior from the Kantonian epic martial arts novel "The Travels of Kakusei and Kouyou"
--Rikka, an Alolan Ninetales guardian spirit
--Aoki, a blade dancer that can channel water and ice through twin blades
--Aozora, an incarnation of Seiryu the Blue Dragon
--Kotomi, the brave and charismatic leader of the Demon Slaying Corps (her most iconic role)
-- Minami, a ninja of the Water Clan

Misty has also tried her hand at writing and directing a play, successfully writing and staging the play "The Journey to Twin Dragon Mountain". She enjoyed the experience, and would happily direct again if the right play presented itself.
 
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Brock, the Versatile Storyteller

As the leader of the Niji Troupe, Brock often appears to promote the troupe alongside Ash and Serena. He will usually narrate the plays, but he is also a houkaku actor, meaning he can play many different kinds of roles.

As narrator of the troupe, Brock is one of the few allowed to play the vina, the ancient Wakunese harp that has long been revered as a solo instrument and as the narrator's instrument on the ancient stage. He is an accomplished vina soloist, and has won many prizes for his beautiful and exquisite playing. He also voices any male puppets used an a play (someone else voices female characters).

Onstage, he tends to gravitate towards musicians, hunters, guardian gods, mystics, leaders (not just kings and emperors, but officials, sect leaders, and magistrates too), and sometimes heroic roles. While his characters are typically quiet and softspoken, he can play a bold and brash arrow slinging hero if a play requires it. He doesn't mind if he has the lead role or a bit part--he will give his all to any role he is asked to play. Many of his characters function as both the narrator and a character.

Brock's skills as a houkaku actor include:

--voice (a true tenor with some baritone range)
--mimicry (this is why some fans have nicknamed him "The Boy of a Million Voices")
--vina (a skilled narrator and three time champion soloist)
--suji (an ancient Wakunese lute similar to a guitar)
--dancing (both alone and with a partner.)
--stage combat (unarmed, bow, and one handed sword)
--acrobatics
--trick archery
--Pokemon skills (his normal Vulpix Hinata, his Alolan Vulpix Yuki, and his Dusk Lycanroc Rocky are most likely to appear in plays, but his Decidueye Kia'i and his Leafeon Willow have made appearances too)

Some of Brock's recurring characters include:

--Genbu the Black Torterra (one of the Four Guardian Gods from mythology)
--Gekigami, the bow wielding Noble Raikou of the Pokemon Zodiac
--Triptaka, the heroic monk of "Journey to the West" (playing the straight man to Ash's Son Goku)
--Haku, the White Dragon (an incarnation of the white dragon mahjong tile)
--Kotoya, the minstrel from the Kantonian epic martial arts novel "The Travels of Kakusei and Kouyou" that is often both the narrator and a character
--Midoku, a musician and storyteller whose joyous demeanor belies an expert archer and swordsman, as well as magician
--Kuroha, an incarnation of Genbu the Black Torterra
--Denji, a third dan black belt Raikou kung fu master (which he admits was based on himself)
--Niko, an archer character that usually draws on Raikou's power
--Haru, a scout for the Demon Slaying Corps
--Reiji, a ninja of the Earth Clan

Brock has recently had a chance to write and direct a play, successfully writing and staging the play "The Rainbow Prince and the Golden Beautifly" not long after a trip to the Lental region with Ash and Misty. He has said he loved the experience, and looks forward to being able to direct again in the future. He is also in the process of writing a second play inspired by a memorable encounter while in Lental--"Fire of the Sacred Volcarona ".
 
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Serena, the Eiyuna

As the eiyuna, or lead actress, of the Niji Troupe, Serena is one of the faces of the troupe, often appearing with the boys for publicity. As is traditional with a yuushi and eiyuna, she and Ash are never apart for very long. But her most iconic role isn't one of her recurring characters or one of the many leading ladies she has played--it is Kitsune, the divine Delphox in Pokeworld lore that is both a guide and a trickster.

Strong and agile, Serena's best known and favorite act to perform as the eiyuna is the ribbon dance, and many of her characters often channel magic through dance. But while her characters may also wield a ribbon as a whip-like weapon, she is also adept in swordplay and archery, with many calling her fights "poetry in motion". In addition to heroines, she also enjoys playing tricksters, and comic roles. She has also tried her hand at narrating a few plays, so Brock could play a character.

Serena's skills as the eiyuna include:

--voice (a strong and heroic soprano)
--mandolin (it is becoming increasingly common to see the modern mandolin on the Tawame stage in place of the moji, a small lute in Wakunese traditional music that along with the mandolin-like kanegen, were the traditional heroine's instruments)
--fiddle/violin (she has successfully worked gypsy jazz from her adopted home of Kalos into several plays--she has found that the suji and the modern violin sound good together.
--dancing (both alone and with a partner.)
--stage combat (unarmed, ribbon, war fan, bow, and one handed sword)
--acrobatics
--Pokemon skills (her faithful Braxien Krystal will often appear with her in plays.)

Some of Serena's recurring characters include:

--Kitsune, the divine Delphox that serves as envoy to Arceus and a guide to heroes
--Byakko the White Raikou (one of the Four Guardian Gods from mythology)
--Kouyou, the heroine from the Kantonian epic martial arts novel "The Travels of Kakusei and Kouyou"
--Hatsu, the Green Dragon (an incarnation of the green dragon mahjong tile)
--Hakuren, an incarnation of Byakko the White Raikou
--Hikaru, a light goddess
--Kannon, the goddess of goodness and mercy in mythology
--Otora Gitsune, a warrior Delphox from mythology said to protect all who fight for peace and justice
--Kirika, a spirit dancer whose ribbon dance is beautiful and deadly to monsters.
--Hoshigami, the spirit of the wishing star in mythology
--Kouhime, the brave princess of a distant land
--Maria, a foreign born (but implied to be what is today Kalos) swordswoman in the Demon Slaying Corps; who considers ancient Kanto her adopted home--a skilled dancer, martial artist, and tactician.
--Konoha, a wise scholar Delphox from mythology
--Kazegami, the Noble Ponyta of the Zodiac
--Hitomi, a ninja of the Sun Clan

Serena has said she would jump at the chance to write or direct a play.
 
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May, the Heroic Hime

One of the newer members of the Niji Troupe, May has proven herself a versatile actress, playing everything from princesses in need of rescue to heroic roles, such as Moegami, the Noble Combusken of the Zodiac. But she tends to gravitate towards the sweet and softspoken characters in a play, making her less of a houkaku and more of a hime, or "princess" actor. While she has only been part of the troupe for a short time, she has already started building up a stable of recurring characters for herself.

But sometimes, a princess has to fight, and May has proven herself highly agile, drawing on her skills as a coordinator to create fights that are both exciting and beautiful. So while she does tend to play dancing princesses with ribbons and fans, sometimes the dance is deadly to the forces of evil! Many of her characters are Beautiflies, or have Beautifly motifs, in honor of her free spirit and quiet strength. When she does get a chance to play the hero, her heroes are energetic and joyful, like the Combusken. But one of her most famous roles is Jirachi, the Wish-Maker Pokemon, which she dedicated to Max, and her adventure with Ash and Brock in reliving the story of the Millennium Comet.

May's skills as a hime actress include:

--voice (a sweet and beautiful soprano)
--mandolin (it is becoming increasingly common to see the modern mandolin on the Tawame stage in place of the moji, a small lute in Wakunese traditional music that along with the mandolin-like kanegen, were the traditional heroine's instruments)
--dancing (both alone and with a partner.)
--stage combat (unarmed, ribbon, war fan, dagger--is open to learning swordplay or archery)
--acrobatics
--Pokemon skills (her Beautifly Niji and her Glaceon Neva are known to appear in plays)

Some of May's recurring characters include:

--Kichou, a Beautifly goddess that often serves as a guide
--Jouga, the Lunar Beautifly in mythology
--Moegami, the Noble Combusken of the Zodiac
--Chirin, a Shiny Beautifly spirit who gets her name from her sparkling wings
--Souna, a mystic in the Demon Slaying Corps who can channel magic through music
--Jirachi, the Wish-Maker Pokemon (she dedicates each time she plays this role to Max)
--Risa, a ninja of the Flower Clan

She has said she would love to write or direct a play one day.
 
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Dawn, the Versatile Heroine

Another relatively new member of the Niji Troupe, Dawn eagerly joined the company for its first Shinou tour, and never looked back. Since the tour, she has come into her own as a versatile actress that sometimes moonlights as a director. But her most beloved and iconic role is Kanade, the warrior-miko of Wakunese mythology. Like Ash, she prefers to play strong roles, but is not opposed to playing princesses if need be--her portrayal of Princess Kinari in 'The Princess of the Gold Palace" put her name out as one to watch for Tawame fans across the world.

Like her friend and fellow coordinator May, Dawn draws on her skills as a coordinator to create fights that are both exciting and beautiful to watch. Even though she still has a lot to learn, she is combining Ash's love for brave and heroic characters with the gentle and softspoken heroes with an occasional bite that Brock tends to play, creating a style and voice all her own. She and May are never apart for long, so it is no surprise they tend to play best friends.

Dawn's skills as a houkaku actress include:

--voice (a strong soprano, but not as powerful as Serena)
--vina (as sometimes Kanade or another miko character will narrate a play)
--dancing (both alone and with a partner.)
--stage combat (unarmed, one handed sword, bow)
--acrobatics
--Pokemon skills (her Piplup Kori is known to appear in plays)

Some of Dawn's recurring characters include:

--Kanade, the brave warrior-miko of mythology
--Yumigami, the Noble Buneary of the Zodiac
--Jukoto, a harpist who can play magic
--the Jade Empress, one of the rulers of the heavens in Wakunese myth
--Mihou, a miko in the Demon Slaying Corps who has extensive knowledge on all manner of yokai
--Taiyou-hime, the High Knight of Heaven
--Mizuki, a spirit of the moon and the name of a ninja character in the Moon Clan

Dawn has also tried her hand at writing and directing a play, successfully writing and staging the play "The Ten Jade Heroes". She has said that she still has more ideas, and looks forward to directing again.
 
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Tawame Theater Superstitions: Averting Tragedy

Like any theater tradition around the Pokeworld, there are always superstitions said to bring good luck or ward off bad luck, and some unfortunate actions or events that portend bad luck. The most well known in the Tawame tradition is the play "The Two Heroes" (or "The Hero From Near and the Hero From Afar" in its more tragic variations).

In most versions of the story, the girl is foretold to "grow up fairer than the children of men. Her beauty shall shine as the beauty of an earthly deity. Every man who looks upon her shall pine with love and longing, and when she is fifteen years old, two heroes will seek her, and both will win her. There will be great rejoicing because of her, loud and joyous, so that the sound of it shall reach even heaven itself."

Some versions take a more tragic slant to the prophecy, saying that "there shall die for her sake a mighty hero from near, and a valiant hero from afar. And there shall be sorrow and mourning because of her, loud and grievous, so that the sound of it shall reach even heaven itself."

Not surprisingly, the happier version is more popular with audiences, but the tragic version has its fans as well. Many say that the tragic version of the story is "one of the hardest plays in the Gekijou canon to perform and watch." But those troupes that can perform the tragic version well are often revered as a great troupe (although there are many that don't perform the tragic version out of respect for superstition--as it is seen the Gekijou and Tawame equivalent of "Macbeth")

There are ways to tell both versions apart--the happier versions are often titled "The Two Heroes" or "The Quest of the Two Heroes", while the tragic version often has a longer title--"The Hero From Near and the Hero From Afar". Much like Pokeworld actors often refer to "Macbeth" as 'that North Galarian play' or 'the North Galarian play' to avoid bad luck, Gekijou actors (who are often more willing to perform tragedies) refer to this story's tragic version as 'the play of the faithful heroes'. to avoid bad luck. (Tawame troupes, such as the Kagayou, will not even perform the tragic version at all out of respect for the supposed curse, and that tradition's general avoidance of tragedy).

History has hundreds of documented accounts of real life tragedy because of the tragic version of the story, from ruined productions, to ruined troupes, to actors and actresses cut down in their prime, all because they tried to stage this version of the story.

The group is very well aware of the tragic version's dark history, and are very careful to only name the play as 'the play of the faithful heroes' when telling audiences and theater fans about the tragic version. If someone does slip and say "The Hero From Near and the Hero From Afar", the best way to ward off and prevent the curse is to submerge themselves in water, clothes and all (symbolically drowning the curse like the characters in the story). If a pool or a body of water is not available to do this, then pouring a bucket of water over the offender is an acceptable alternative. Most Gekijou actors that perform tragedies refer to this process as "dunking".

Of the group, only Brock has been "dunked". Both times he was dunked were accidents--each time when he slipped and accidentally named the play during a lecture (Ash and the girls waited to do the dunking until after the lecture was over)

In the happier version, the two heroes each go on two separate quests to prove their love for the girl--so rather than fight over who "rightfully" won the girl, the three main characters form a mutual friendship instead of a romantic relationship. In many versions of the happier version, the girl is an equally capable fighter herself, and the three characters usually go on a grand quest to save the land (usually to slay some evil dragons, or take down an evil sect.)

When the Kagayou does perform the happier version of the story, Ash and Ethan play the two heroes to Serena's heroine.
 
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Tawame Theater Superstitions: Meloetta and the Ghost Light

Like its counterparts in other parts of the world, but the Tawame theater tradition and its sister tradition the Gekijou believe in the ghost light--a light left on the stage while the theater is not in use. Meloetta is seen as the mascot and guardian of the Tawame theater, so it is believed the ghost light is left on so she can sing and dance while the actors and crew are away. Failure to leave the ghost light on is said to be very bad luck.

This is why the Tawame tradition is averse to tragedy--it is believed sad endings offend Meloetta, and so she will curse a Tawame troupe to ruin if they perform a tragedy. (she is okay with suffering as part of the plot, so long as the suffering is ended, eased and/or dealt with in the end)

Meloetta dolls are often found in Tawame theaters to bless the performance space and the actors. The foyer is the traditional place, but some theaters have dolls in multiple places for extra good luck.

Every theater's ghost light is unique, and no two Tawame troupes and theaters will have the same ghost light. In the case of the Kagayou, their ghost light is a gold lotus on the curtain.
 
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Puppets in the Tawame Theater

If portraying a Pokemon via a live actor is not possible or feasible, it is a common practice for troupes to use puppets. The average Tawame troupe typically owns about 50-100 unique puppets (not counting duplicates of a puppet or different versions for different kinds of scenes), but some troupes may have many more.

A Tawame puppet is far more advanced than even the Muppets in our world--even the smallest beings and spirits performed by a single performer can interact with and use objects, have facial expressions, and even use weapons and instruments. Big Bird-esque full body puppets are fairly rare, but some plays explicitly call for one (Pokemon that are known to be performed in a full body form include Greninja, Gardevoir and Gallade, Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan, Blastoise, Blaziken the Chansey family, Abomasnow, Pangoro, and Goodra, just to name a few) Unlike other puppeteers, full body puppet performers do not unmask when a play is over--as it is frowned upon to be seen "out of character" onstage (it is fine to unmask backstage, however)

Traditionally, puppets were voiced by the narrator; although it is becoming more common for performers to do their own voices.

The performers for the puppets are also all in black, like stage ninjas (like the stage ninjas, they are also unmasked when the play is over.) Brock makes it clear in his courtesy spiel before every show: "Although you will very plainly see the puppeteers and stage ninjas at work, remember that they are only shadows, and unseen to you."

The Kagayou has a large collection of puppets--not counting spare copies of puppets and specially designed versions of a puppet, they have about 600 puppets in their collection, and counting. When a puppet is needed in a show, small puppets that only need one performer, including full body puppets, are voiced by the performer. For puppets that need multiple performers, Brock will voice male puppets, and someone else will voice female puppets. For beings and characters where it is unknown what their gender is, the group picks the person that fits the character

Of the group, Ash, Misty, and Serena have the proper training to perform Tawame puppets. Of the three, Ash and Serena have training to perform full body puppets--Ash performed a specially designed Bonded Greninja full body puppet for "Ninja of the Misty Castle" a new play; and Ken, a Gallade character. Serena has performed a full body Kitsune puppet and a Gardevoir character named Kibou in several shows.
 
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The Tawame Troupe on the Road

Many Tawame troupes do tour, and the Kagayou is no exception. Those lucky enough to see their colorful caravan of wagons know they are in for a wonderful night of adventure.

Since they typically stay for a week at each location, many of the preparation is done on the road. One wagon has a practice stage to rehearse most of, if not all of, a play. Only the most complex effects (including full body puppets, elaborate dances, and acrobatic feats) are practiced at the location.

What order the troupes perform in is determined at random. This means the troupe performing first for the week often holds dress rehearsals on the road. The troupes that are not performing usually make final preparations for their show. Once they have performed their show, they can watch their fellow troupes perform, or go out and enjoy what the area has to offer.

If a show goes over particularly well, the troupe may be asked to stay for longer--so many troupes keep a number of fan favorite shows on standby--unless their patron requests a specific type of show.

The Kagayou have successfully toured Kanto three times, Shinou and Kalos, with more tours in other regions and at home in Kanto to come in the future.
 
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A Play Profile: Scaring the Ten Raikous


"Scaring the Ten Raikous" is an exciting play about how the titular ten ruthless martial artists were taken down by the power of trust, loyalty, justice, and friendship.

"This was a fun, but demanding play to do!" Dawn explains. "Each of our characters has their own unique martial arts style, so there was a lot of martial arts training, weapons training, acrobatics training, aquatics training, and a little bit of music and dance training to do."

"The story may be a basic one, but audiences keep coming back because of our characters' bonds, and how that sees them through to complete their mission." Brock agrees. "It wasn't the most demanding show I've been in, but the acrobatics were the scariest part. Even though we all had catch tethers on and spotters watching us, it was still scary doing backflips and spins in the air above the audience."

"Being able to do some aquatic work was my favorite part of this play, and others like it." Misty explains. "Just like when we do acrobatic work, we have rescue divers for both human and Pokemon safety, as well as costumes that will hold up to water should the worst happen. So while they may look like traditional Kantonian garb, they're actually very warm and comfy wetsuits--we just change out of those into a normal version of our costume when the aquatic scene is over. This way, the audience has no idea we've ever changed costumes."

"Ironically, the play's title may be about scaring off ten villains as strong as Raikous, but Brock's character is a good Raikou." Ash explains. "We all had a blast with this play, but Brock seemed to enjoy his role the most--being able to do trick archery and play music, and try a more energetic role."

Ash plays Hiroki, a brave swordsman from the Shining Phoenix sect, who can also play magic on his flute.

Misty plays Teina, a bladedancer from the Ancient Dragon sect blessed with divine power.

Brock plays Niko, an archer from the Resplendent Raikou sect who moonlights as a harpist and singer.

Serena plays Yuzu, a dancer of the Golden Moon Enclave who has adapted the Golden Moon Dance into a martial art.

May plays Kayori, a mystic known as the Magnificent Beautifly for her colorful spells. She and Rinka are never apart for long.

Dawn plays Rinka, a confident mystic of the Celestial Buneary Enclave, and Kayori's best friend.
 
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A Play Profile: The Thundering Cheri Blossom Spirit

"The Thundering Cheri Blossom Spirit" is a thrilling adventure featuring famous flowers across Kanto come to life. It is a very popular play to perform outdoors, so the troupe often performs it at festivals.

The show explains that one year, the very elements of nature of the mortal realm disappear, and the fear, sadness and worry even extends to the Flower Kingdom, where flowers reside when they are not blooming in the mortal realm. Sakura, the Cheri blossom, grows worried as her time to enter the mortal realm and bloom nears--what if she can't bloom this year?

After asking her friend Ayame, the iris, what to do, Ayame suggests that the flowers get together to determine what is going on, and how to heal the mortal realm.

Kiku, the Chrysanthemum Lord, finds Sakura's suggestion a wonderful idea, and rallies the flowers together to see how they can restore the mortal realm.

After some discussion, the flowers are shocked to learn that one of their own is behind the chaos in the mortal realm--Sayuri, the orange lily. It turns out that Sayuri stole the Jewels of Nature to make sure she was the only flower that bloomed, sowing discord and despair among the mortals. Angered at Sayuri's selfishness, and heartbroken at the mortal's suffering, Botan, the peony warrior, asks if he can enter the mortal realm and bloom early for the year to restore the balance of nature. Kiku agrees that some flowers must bloom early to help the mortals, and he is not opposed to delivering Sayuri's judgment himself.

With Kiku leading a party of flowers who volunteered, they embark on a quest to find where Sayuri hid the Jewels of Nature.

After a long Zelda-esque quest, the other flowers confront Sayuri and defeat her. Kiku curses Sayuri, banishing her to the Garden of Judgment for all time, meaning she will not bloom in the mortal realm again.

In the end, Sakura, Ayame, and the other flowers bloom on time, and the mortals hail it as "the most beautiful hanami ever"

Ash plays Botan, the courageous peony who is not afraid of anything

Misty plays Suisen, the brave daffodil respected by all the flowers

Brock plays Kiku, the noble chrysanthemum and the leader of the Flower Kingdom

Serena plays Himawari, the joyful sunflower who doesn't let even the worst of times get to her

May plays Sakura, the Cheri blossom seeking out the Jewels of Nature to restore a wilted land

Dawn plays Ayame, the iris who is Sakura's closest friend
 
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A Play Profile: The Mystic Cheri Blossom Bow


"The Mystic Cheri Blossom Bow" is an exciting play where the titular bow is as much a character as the actors. The play is the first of many plays featuring the group as the six members of the Demon Slaying Corps, a band of best friends whose loyalty to each other and dedication to keeping ancient Kanto safe from monsters and demons has made them fan favorites with audiences. Many agree this play is the origin story of the Demon Slaying Corps.

"The prop crew went all out in designing the titular bow." Brock explains. "This was more than sticking paper Cheri blossoms on a toy bow--like many of the weapons we use in our shows, this bow was custom designed. I could hardly wait to shoot it when it was ready.

Brock plays the role of Haru, a wandering archer seeking his fortune as a monster hunter for hire. After rescuing Shaymin from a tengu, Shaymin gifts him with the titular bow. He eventually comes upon the village the tengu was bothering, and he is heartily welcomed to the town's resident monster hunting corps.

"What monsters we end up slaying are mostly different every show, and who Haru is with for each mission changes." Brock explains. "But the final mission is always the iconic ogre king, Shuten Dōji, who has kidnapped the princess of the realm--and everyone has to work together to take him down."

"The Shuten Dōji puppet is huge, but he's not even the biggest puppet we have." Misty explains. "That honor goes to an Eternatus puppet we have for Tawame takes on Galarian stories--Shuten Dōji could fit inside him at least three times."

"These kinds of plays--where we all play a band of heroes working together towards a common goal-- are some of my favorites to perform." Dawn raves. "I think its because regardless of our characters, we tend to put a little of our real life bond into what you see onstage. It's no surprise the Demon Slaying Corps members are some of our most iconic characters."

Ash plays Touki, an energetic and happy-go-lucky member of the Demon Slaying Corps who is as skilled with a flute as he is with a sword

Misty plays Kotomi, the brave and charismatic leader of the Demon Slaying Corps

Brock plays Haru, the hero of the story who joins the Demon Slaying Corps as a scout--eventually becoming the group's most reliable and trusted scout.

Serena plays Maria, a foreign born (but implied to be what is today Kalos) swordswoman in the Demon Slaying Corps; who considers ancient Kanto her adopted home--a skilled dancer, martial artist, and tactician.

May plays Souna, a mystic in the Demon Slaying Corps who can channel magic through music (and teaches Haru to do this when she finds he can play the vina)

Dawn plays Mihou, a miko in the Demon Slaying Corps who has extensive knowledge on all manner of yokai
 
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A Play Profile: Clash on Chaos Mountain


"Clash on Chaos Mountain" is an epic ninja battle play, complete with the final confrontation with the Shadow Clan at the peak of the mountain. The play is a fan favorite with kids and adults alike, and the group has just as much fun playing the ninjas.

"Getting to play a ninja is great fun!" Brock raves. "It helps that my character gets to perform some trick archery during the high flying fights. But just like every aerial fight we do, what you see onstage often takes weeks and sometimes months to get right. Aiming a shot in the air is probably the most nerve-wracking part of an aerial fight for me--because if my aim is even just a little bit off, it ruins the rhythm of the fight at best, or could injure someone or damage the set at worst."

The show's story is very straightfoward--a band of ninjas travels to rescue the princess of the land from the evil Shadow Clan, culminating in an epic clash atop the titular mountain. "Sakura-hime's costume is beautiful!" Serena recalls. "Audiences ooh and ahh at her when we finally bust in to rescue her towards the end of the play. Who gets the honor of breaking down the door changes every time we do the play--it was Ash's turn to do it this time, so he sliced up the door with some fancy sword moves. When I get to do it, I use a show spell and a ribbon lash."

"This was my first time playing a ninja for a change." Dawn explains. "Of all the ninja costumes, I thought the Moon Clan design looked the prettiest--so my jutsu have to do with the moon and the stars. We change up what jutsu get used every time, so the fights never play out the same way twice. Half the fun is thinking up names for the moves!"

Ash plays Kaname, a ninja of the Fire Clan

Misty plays Minami, a ninja of the Water Clan

Brock plays Reiji, a ninja of the Earth Clan

Serena plays Hitomi, a ninja of the Sun Clan

May plays Risa, a ninja of the Flower Clan

Dawn plays Mizuki, a ninja of the Moon Clan (not to be confused with her moon spirit character)
 
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A Play Profile: Spirits of the Graceful River


"Spirits of the Graceful River" has been called "a beautiful play that explores the spiritual side of Kanto's ancient past", even though it is very loosely based on the legend of Momiji, a well known Wakunese story, The show is sometimes considered the origin story of Taira no Koremochi, the Demon Slayer

For the most part, the play is relatively faithful to the original story, but there are a few minor tweaks to account for more characters and the sake of the medium. "In this version, Taira no Koremochi gets a lot more warning that the princess he is meeting isn't who she claims to be." Misty explains. "These spirits--including my character--come to help our hero when Momiji reveals her true colors."

"Ash is...pretty much the picture of a samurai." Serena recalls. "While he is best known in our troupe for playing wild, bold, and joyous heroes, he can play more subdued heroes, as well. It helps that he kinda already embodies the way of bushido to a point."

"This play was so much fun!" Dawn recalls. "Seeing Ash in full samurai armor was amazing--he looked like a natural with a prop katana! I got a chance to support him with some trick archery during the final battle."

"Getting to play Taira no Koremochi, an icon in Wakunese history and legend, was truly an honor." Ash recalls. "The samurai armor is not as heavy as it might look to the audience--the hardest part was actually learning to use a katana, since those are very different from the one handed swords I typically wield. The fight trainers really went the extra mile to make sure I was comfy with the two handed katana by opening night. But what made playing this legendary figure even sweeter was the fact Mom, Dad, and Prof. Oak were in the audience opening night--so I had to be extra sure I played him well!"

Ash plays Taira no Koremochi

Misty plays Rinna, a river spirit

Brock narrates the story

Serena plays Kitsune, who gives Taira no Koremochi the sword in this version of the story

May plays Sakaze, a Beautifly spirit

Dawn plays Morika, a Deerling spirit
 
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