Kabuki Jedi

Hat tip to Artsjournal.com for the link to a Guardian piece about a kabuki version of Star Wars. The adaptation (or at least the video available online) covered moments from the most recent films and focuses on the Kylo Ren character – Kairennosuke Three Shining Swords in the traditional Star Wars opening screen crawl. (Kylo Ren rendered as KaiRenNosuke)

According to the Guardian article, this is an attempt to shake the dust off the kabuki performance form and provide relevance for younger audiences. It is also clearly an opportunity to promote the opening of the next film in the franchise given the big placard announcing the opening on December 20.

The video includes Kylo killing Han, the climatic battle against Snoke and Kylo’s fight with Luke.  Despite the laser beam blasts during the interludes, the staging appears to follow many of the kabuki conventions. (I am certainly not an expert and don’t speak Japanese). So while Snoke seems to manipulate Rey with the Force, Ren slays Snoke with his own hand rather than manipulating a light saber with the Force as in the movies.

One particular point of discomfort for English speakers was the exclusion of Rey during the battle in Snoke’s throne room. I wondered if it might be a staging convention to only depict one hero battling and exclude allies because the Rey character reappears at the end of the battle posed with her own light saber.

For people familiar with the movies, the adaptation of the movies will be of interest, though perhaps some elements will be confusing. The way they handled Kylo realizing Luke wasn’t actually physically there was clearly recognizable, but I am not sure what the role of the illuminated child was. My best guess was that he represented Luke’s message to Ren during that fight.

Anyway, check it out soon. No telling when Disney may pull the video of the stream. The performance itself starts around the 13 min mark.




About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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