Martial Arts Plays

Dear Director of Youth Theatrical Productions:

        The martial arts have punched their way into the theatrical world, adding an exciting physical dimension to many performances, but, unfortunately, many films and plays lack the emotional kick to make them worthwhile theatrical experiences, especially for today's youth.  If you are an avid martial arts fan who believes that martial arts plays should be infused with some ethical and spiritual values, you might be interested in producing The Samurai Sword or The Dragon Star, both theatrical martial arts extravaganzas but each with a message.  And if you would like to produce a unique Christmas play that combines the spirit of the Yuletide season with that of the martial arts, you might wish to produce Crasher, the Unknown Reindeer.


  The Samurai Sword

Copyright c. 1981 Paul Turse.  All rights reserved)


        Michio, an orphaned Japanese youth, dreams of becoming a great samurai warrior.  When the evil magician, Kuromoto, kidnaps the Princess Ueshima and hides her on Thunder Mountain, the abode of the Fire Dragon, Michio gets his chance to prove himself.  Michio sets out to rescue the princess with the aid of his faithful pet monkey, who is, in reality, the orphan girl Matsuko.  Unknown to Michio, Matsuko has been transformed into a monkey by Kuromoto in order to keep her from revealing the magician’s treachery.  When Kuromoto casts the spell over Matsuko, he unwittingly turns her into a magic monkey possessing a pouch filled with magic dust.  This magic dust, of course, could be used to transform her back into a girl.  But because of her love for and devotion to Michio, Matsuko uses her dust to gain possession of a magic samurai sword, which enables Michio to defeat the Fire Dragon, save the princess, and earn the right to marry her.  However, before Michio makes his triumphal return, Kuromoto takes control of the palace, holds the Emperor Ueshima hostage, and demands the hand of the princess in marriage.

        When Kuromoto uses his sorcery to take the magic from the sword and then sends his Mongol warriors to take the princess, Michio must stand against his enemies without the aid of the external, supernatural power, which had made him invincible, but must rely only on the magic that he can find within himself.  To help him restore his lost confidence and see him through this crisis, Matsuko must use more of her magic dust.

        Even though Michio is ultimately successful in thwarting Kuromoto’s plot and defeats the Mongols, the hero is not allowed to marry the Princess because it is learned that he is an orphan and not really from the elite warrior class.  In a magnanimous display of self-sacrifice, Matsuko uses the last of her magic dust—the remaining bit that could change her back into a girl—to make Michio’s true identify known:  He is the son of Tsuneyori, Japan’s greatest legendary warrior.  After this discovery, the royal family is more than willing to allow the marriage—an action that will force Michio to give up his pet monkey.

        Michio’s climactic choice between personal ambition and loyalty will provide an exciting and rewarding theatrical experience, not only for children of all ages but for adults as well.


The Dragon Star 

Copyright © 1975, 1980 Paul Turse

All rights reserved.

        The setting is 1980 Japan, and the security treaty between America and Japan is about to expire.  Prime Minister Katsura and MG Mannings are desperately attempting to negotiate a new agreement before either the communist faction, headed by the insidious Sato Clan, or the right wing militarists can thwart the renewal.  Katsura, a man of principles, is torn between the forces of democracy, communism, and traditionalism.  He longs for the samurai way but knows in his heart that Japan must remain a democracy.  However, because of a debt made long ago to the Sato Clan, he has been forced to promise his only daughter, Tsukiko, in marriage to young Sato.  This union would consolidate power in hands of the Sato Clan in the event of the Prime Minister's assassination, a plot that the young Sato has been secretly plotting.  But the most visible and volatile situation is the battle for martial arts supremacy between the Katsura team, headed by the Prime Minister’s “samurai” son, The Kat, and the US Army team, headed by the General’s romantic son, Mike. 

        When Mike, searching for an ex-girl friend, crashes a party at the Katsura Palace, he encounters the exquisite Tsukiko, dancing one of her own artistic creations.  In the grace of her movement, he discovers what has been missing in both his martial arts and his love life.  When the two are caught in an innocent but compromising interlude, a fight nearly breaks out.  In order not to create an international incident, Mike runs.  The Kat interprets this escape as a sign of cowardice and loss of face; thus, he vows revenge and promises to restore martial arts supremacy to the Katsuras and Japan.

        Worrying about the feelings of Tsukiko, Mike returns at night and scales the walls of the palace to her balcony.  Under the magical light of the Dragon Star, they discover their love for each other and flee into the night to the sanctuary of a monastery, where they are secretly married by the priest, Shinzomoto, who hopes by this union to join America and Japan and thus finally defeat the Sato Clan.  But it will take more than their marriage to heal the scars of mistrust left by WWII; it will take the ultimate sacrifice of the two young lovers to restore order and harmony in Japan and in the cosmos. 

        Before they can make their union known to the world, the priest needs time to gain support for his actions.  Thus, he sends Mike home to stay with his father and, unbeknown to Mike, he gives Tsukiko a secret potion to stimulate sleep and simulate death.  Before Mike gets to safety, he is forced to kill The Kat in combat, fight his way through an entire military police detachment, and meet his demise in a ritualistic battle with the invincible Bodyguard, the strongest sumo wrestler in Japan, who is guarding the body of Tsukiko, whom Mike believes to be dead.  When Tsukiko awakens from her sleep, she learns of Mike’s death and, in a tradition-defying act, she commits hara-kiri in the manner of a samurai.

        Sound familiar?  Of course, but this version of Shakespeare’s tragedy is a theatrical extravaganza, replete with exciting fight-sequences, geisha dances, and Kabuki-style scenic devices.  Yet, despite the seriousness of the plot, comic relief abounds in the antics of the villain Sato, his dim-witted Bodyguard, the snobbish Sabrina, and the Keystone-Cop military police.  Political intrigue, supernatural phenomena, romance, and martial arts philosophy all merge to create a unified dramatic work designed to appeal to audiences of all ages--and just maybe stimulate and rejuvenate an interest in Shakespeare on the part of young people.


 Crasher, the Unknown Reindeer

(A Christmas Martial Arts play)

Copyright © 2005 Paul Turse

All rights reserved.


        After crashing Santa's sleigh, during a rehearsal for Christmas Eve, Crasher is no longer allowed to lead the sleigh.  And when he loses his temper and misuses his martial arts training, he accidentally hits Rudolph, causing his nose to turn shiny red, Santa sends Crasher to the barn. However, Crasher runs away to the other side of the North Pole, where he encounters the evil twin brother of Santa, who has his own elves, workshop, and reindeer, everything that the good Santa has--all except one thing: his reindeer can’t fly. 

        If Crasher can steal the secret of flight from the good Santa and give it to the evil one, Crasher will be rewarded by being able to lead the evil Santa’s sleigh and thus become famous.  When Crasher brings the secret of flight to the evil Santa, the errant reindeer discovers that the evil elves are packing the gifts with coal in an effort to eventually ruin Christmas. 

        After an exciting martial arts battle with the evil reindeer, Crasher must return to the good Santa before the end of the winter solstice or Santa and his reindeer will not be able to fly and thus there will be no Christmas.  Crasher returns in time to save Christmas, and Santa declares that Crasher can lead the sleigh.  Crasher, however, has another plan. His decision will demonstrate that fame is no substitute for honor and that very often the most courageous are not always the most famous.  In fact, they are often unknown.



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