Katsura Sunshine was born in Toronto, Ontario, to parents of Slovenian origin. He studied classics at the University of Toronto, where he got his first introduction to the works of the Ancient Greek comic playwright, Aristophanes, under the renowned scholar of ancient comedy, Eric Csapo. He became involved in translating, adapting, and performing in versions of Aristophanes’ comedies for the Department of Classics.
In September, 1995, his version of Aristophanes’ “Clouds” opened at the Poor Alex Theatre in Toronto, and, buoyed by almost universally positive reviews, ran for 15 months before embarking on a tour of central and eastern Canada.
Sunshine came to Japan in 1999 to pursue studies in Noh and Kabuki Theatre, while working as an instructor of English Language at the prestigious Daigakushorin International Language Academy. He continued to write and produce musical theatre during this period.
On September 1st , 2008, Sunshine was accepted as an apprentice to the great Rakugo storytelling master, Katsura Bunshi VI (then named Katsura Sanshi), and subsequently received the name Katsura Sunshine. In the Rakugo tradition, he received both his master’s last name and part of the first (his master, Sanshi combined the first part of his name, “San”, meaning “Three”, with the Japanese word for “Shine”, and gave it the Japanese pronunciation of the English word “Sunshine”).
Sunshine received his professional debut in Singapore the following year, and completed his three-year Rakugo apprenticeship in November, 2012.
Sunshine is the first ever Western Rakugo storyteller in the history of the “Kamigata” Rakugo tradition, based in Osaka, and only the second ever in the history of Japan. (The first was Australian Kairakutei Black (1858-1923), who performed in the Edo tradition, based in Tokyo. Sunshine is the only Western professional Rakugo storyteller at the present time.）
Sunshine has performed in Singapore, the United States and Canada, London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Oxford, Paris, Sydney, Adelaide, Canberra, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, as well as throughout Japan. He currently divides his time between London and Tokyo.
Sunshine currently appears regularly on television in Japan, and has been the subject of several short documentaries made for television news.
Sunshine has been appointed Cultural Ambassador for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Japan, and Friendship Ambassador for Japan and the Republic of Slovenia.
Musical Theatre (Playwright, Composer, Artistic Director)
Founder, Artistic Director
Ancient Comic Opera Company (1994-1998)
Musicals Created and Produced:
Aristophanes’ Clouds (Poor Alex Theatre, Toronto, 15-Month Run)
Aristophanes’ Lysistrata (Poor Alex Theatre, 4-Month Run)
The Tokyo Affair
Co-Founder, Artistic Director
Theatre Cotton Robes (2002-Present)
Operas for Children Created and Produced:
Allegra’s Magic Flute (Presently in Rep./ Touring)
Orphea and the Golden Harp (Presently in Rep./ Touring)
Accepted as apprentice to Katsura Sanshi (Now Katsura Bunshi VI)
Received the name Katsura Sunshine
Professional Rakugo Debut, Singapore
Completed 3-Year Rakugo Apprenticeship
Solo Rakugo Performances Abroad (Past and Pending)
Embassy of Japan, Ottawa, Canada
Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, Montreal
Convocation Hall, University of Toronto
National Arts Centre, Ottawa (hosted by the Embassy of Japan)
University of Ottawa
March 5-10, 2013
Sri Lanka (hosted by the Embassy of Japan, Sri Lanka)
Twenty-city, thirty show tour of North America
Final show at Toronto’s historic Winter Garden Theatre
Houston, Austin, Dallas, Texas and Lexington, Kentucky
Katsura Sunshine Rakugo World Tour 2014-2015
July – August 2014
London, Edinburgh (Festival Fringe – 25 Shows), Manchester
South Africa, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone (further stops TBA)
November – December, 2014
Oxford University, Paris, Ljubljana (further stops TBA)
Australia – Sydney, Adelaide, Canberra
June, July 2015
Calgary, Banff, Ottawa, Los Angeles
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
European Tour (TBA)
African Tour (TBA)
University of Toronto, Bachelor of Arts, Classics and English, 1994
Osaka University of Arts, Master of Arts, Theatre, 2009
Translated Aristophanes’ Clouds, Lysistrata, Assemblywomen from Ancient Greek to English for professional theatrical production in Toronto, etc. (see above for production details)
Translated twenty Rakugo performances by Master Katsura Bunchin at the National Theatre of Japan, from Japanese to English, and created English subtitles for DVD rendition