Japanese Theatre Stages Kabuki Version of Star Wars

A one-off performance of a kabuki adaptation of Star Wars, starring one of Japan’s most revered stage actors, will take place on Tokyo on Thursday.

The classical Japanese theatre, which combines highly stylised movement and unusual vocalisation, will swap samurai swords for lightsabers and replace feudal warriors with the forces of light and darkness.

Star Wars Kabuki-Rennosuke and the Three Light Sabers, which are being staged in Tokyo, will combine plots from each of the franchise’s latest trilogy, substituting plots drawn from the days of feudal clan rivalry with drama from a galaxy far, far away.

Ichikawa Ebizo XI, Japan’s pre-eminent kabuki actor, will take to the stage as Kylo Ren, the conflicted son of Han Solo and Princess Leia, in front of 50 winners of an online lottery.

Ten days after the Star Wars performance, the performing art will meet anime and manga in a kabuki adaptation of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind by the renowned Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki.

While the location of the Star Wars performance has been kept secret, the Japan office of Disney, which is producing the show, said fans would be able to watch via a live stream.

Thursday’s performance, which will take place weeks before the nine-part Star Wars saga draws to a close with the release of The Rise of Skywalker, is the latest attempt by kabuki to shake off its stuffy image and open it up to a wider audience.

Traditionalists, though, are unlikely to object to the Star Wars theme, given the films’ popularity in Japan and the Japanese themes and that have helped shape the franchise throughout its 42-year-history.