One of the most beautiful Japanese traditions is that of kabuki theater. The dance dramas are known for their elaborate and colorful makeup and costumes, stylized performances, and broad postures, creating a heightened experience for the audience. The performances are usually set in the samurai era, but sometimes extend into other time periods—or even in a galaxy far, far away. To celebrate the upcoming release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, a kabuki performance of Star Wars will take place in Tokyo later this month.
And this isn’t just some little production, either. According to SoraNews24, Star Wars Kabuki will star Ichikawa Ebizo, one of the most famous and popular kabuki performers in all of Japan, and an “A-list Japanese entertainment industry icon.” The performer is apparently a huge fan of Star Wars, and is serving as a supervisor on the project.
“Star Wars Kabuki will depict the love and loss felt by the Skywalker family over the past 40-plus years,” Ichikawa said in a press release about the upcoming performance. “Whether you ’re a Star Wars lover or a kabuki lover, it ’s a great piece to enjoy.” Ichikawa will portray the complicated, villainous Kylo Ren—the grandson of Darth Vader and nephew of famed Jedi Luke Skywalker—in the generational portrayal.According to Mantan Web, the performance will feature key scenes from each of the films in the newest trilogy: The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and the upcoming The Rise of Skywalker. The focus on “love and loss” felt by the Skywalkers is interesting, as it paints the overall saga as something of a tragedy; which it always has been, to a degree, but seeing that through the lens of kabuki makes that theme feel even more weighted and powerful.
The full title for the kabuki performance is Star Wars Kabuki-Rennosuke Hikarigatana Sanbon, which translates to Star Wars Kabuki-Ren and Three Light Sabers. We’re curious what those three lightsabers could be referring to. Since the emphasis seems to be on the relationships between fathers, sons, and family, it’s likely that the kabuki will focus on the lightsabers of Vader, Luke, and Kylo, but that’s just a guess. It could be even more open to interpretation in the actual performance.
Star Wars feels like a natural fit for the kabuki theater. George Lucas was heavily inspired by samurai films when he created the original trilogy. The saga as a whole draws heavily from Eastern culture, from costumes to set pieces and beyond. Even so, we have to imagine how spectacular some of these familiar costumes and props will look through a kabuki lens. We have to imagine Kylo Ren’s mask—itself inspired by Japanese tradition—will look even more impressive on a colorful kabuki stage.
Star Wars Kabuki-Rennosuke Hikarigatana Sanbon will run for one night only on November 28 in Tokyo. However. the location is currently unknown. The performance will take place just a few weeks before Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives in theaters on December 20.
Featured Image: Star Wars Kabuki