Noh, Shakespeare joined in a ‘Tempest’


The acclaimed Noh stagings of Shakespeare by Ryutopia (Niigata Prefecture’s public theater) resume next month both at home and in Tokyo.

As the theater’s sixth program, Yoshihiro Kurita — Ryutopia’s associate director and the director of all its Noh-Shakespeare works — has chosen the Bard’s tremendous romance, “The Tempest,” with himself playing the main role of the sorcerer Prospero.

Known for his unique directorial interpretations of Shakespeare, Kurita has in the past created a female King Lear, with leading contemporary theater actress Kayoko Shiraishi in the title role of what became almost a one-woman drama. Also, in the fifth Noh- Shakespeare in the series, 2007’s “Hamlet,” Kurita left a distressed Prince of Denmark sat deep in thought on the floor of the Noh stage from the start of the play to to the finish without moving — as if the tale’s tragic events may have just been fears in his mind — or maybe not.

Meanwhile, Kurita’s third program, “The Winter’s Tale,” which was boldly simplified and presented with impressive lantern lighting, was invited to the Shakespeare International Festival in Romania in 2006. As a result of its great reception there, a version of the Noh play that was reworked for regular theater embarked on a European tour, stopping off in Hungary, Poland, Germany, Romania and Moldova last year, receiving along the way lots of warm responses and applause.

This time, Kurita invited the prominent traditional Noh actor, Reijiro Tsumura, to work with his team on his version of The Tempest, and to take the role of the magically airy spirit, Ariel, who acts as the story’s guide from behind his Noh mask.

Yet in the end, who knows just what kind of a “Tempest” is brewing in the mind of Kurita, and how can we guess what sort of stage he will create in Niigata and Tokyo next month?

“The Tempest” runs July 9-12 at the Niigata Ryutopia Theater, a 7-minute drive from JR Niigata Station. It then tours to Tokyo July 18-20 at the Tessenkai Noh Theater, a 3-minute walk from Omotesando Station on the Ginza and Hanzomon subway lines. For more details, call Ryutopia at (025) 224-5615 or visit www.ryutopia.or.jp