vol.4 Keeping Tradition & Creating the New: Kabuki's constant innovation!
As well as the standard repertoire, some actors are making serious and scholarly efforts to revive plays from Kabuki's earlier years. Sakata Tōjūrō IV has dedicated a major part of his career to performances and revivals of the classical works of Chikamatsu Monzaemon. His theatre troupe operates under the title of the Chikamatsu-za. Similarly, with an eye to his long family history of actor/managers, Nakamura Kanzaburō XVIII has revived the Nakamura-za theatre - the Heisei Nakamura-za - which, in a small portable marquee, tries to give modern audiences a taste of the atmosphere of Edo Period Kabuki. Kanzaburō has also enlisted the cooperation of modern directors outside the Kabuki world such as Noda Hideki and others to create new and innovative versions of classic works. A production of 'The Summer Festival', (Natsu Matsuri), that Kanzaburō toured to New York's Lincoln Centre even included that city's police cars driving onto the stage for a spectacular finale!
The renowned actor Ichikawa Ennosuke III (1939-) also launched his so-called 'Super Kabuki' in 1986 which was intended to entice a new audience with greater hi-tech spectacle, more elaborate costumes, recorded music and Chinese and other foreign influences. Even more recently, the rising star Onoe Kikunosuke V has worked with renowned director Ninagawa Yukio on a Kabuki version of Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night' entitled Jūniya which was toured to London's Barbican Centre in 2009. While the ultimate fate of these hybrid productions remains to be seen, the immediate future of classical Kabuki - one of the world's great theatrical arts - seems assured.