Japanese Kabuki star wants to reach younger, global audience

TOKYO, Nov 05 (citynews.ca) - A Japanese Kabuki star who recently assumed a prestigious stage name said Friday he wants to preserve the traditional art while adopting a new approach, including by collaborating with artists from other genres around the world as he seeks to attract younger audiences.

Ichikawa Danjuro XIII, formerly known as Ichikawa Ebizo, assumed his family’s centuries-old top stage name this week after a two-year delay due to the pandemic. To celebrate the name succession, Danjuro is scheduled to perform several of the “18 favorite plays” of the Ichikawa family at Tokyo’s Kabukiza theater through December.

In the world of Kabuki, a stage name is handed down over generations in a family and carries a great responsibility and honor. A new successor must live up to the expectations for the style, spirit and skill that the stage name carries. Actors usually have three stage names during their Kabuki career as they mature.

As the 13th successor — and top performer — in the Ichikawa family, Danjuro shoulders a heavy responsibility to keep alive the traditional performing art that started around 1600. But he says just protecting the tradition is not enough.

“As a Kabuki actor today, I attach the biggest importance to the succession of tradition, but I also worry about a possibility of going extinct if we only stick to the tradition,” said the 44-year-old star, whose real name is Takatoshi Horikoshi. He says that it is a task for modern-day Kabuki actors to attract younger audience about the joy of the centuries-old art. ...continue reading

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