Za Kabuki

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The second act of Za Kabuki's 2010 performance of Enokido Kenji's play Topknot Bunshichi

Za Kabuki (Japanese: ザ歌舞伎), founded in 1976 at the Australian National University, is the longest running Kabuki troupe outside Japan.[1] Directed by Mr Shun Ikeda of the ANU Japan Centre, with a cast and crew consisting mainly of ANU Japanese students,[2] the troupe performs traditional Kabuki plays almost entirely in classical Japanese, with some English translation and ad-libs inserted to assist the mainly English-speaking audiences.[3]


The tradition of annual Japanese performances at the ANU began in 1976,[4] with the first shows taking place in the walkway between the Sports & Recreation building and the Union building. During the 1980s and 1990s, productions became increasingly elaborate, with authentic makeup and costumes, original sets and musical accompaniment, hosted at a number of the theatre facilities around the ANU campus.

In 1999, Producer Suzy Styles led the Za Kabuki troupe on their first tour of Japan, with performances in Nara and Kobe. On 11 September 2001, a troupe from Kobe's Konan University returned the favour by performing at the ANU's Llewellyn Hall.

The 2006 production of Yukio Mishima's "Iwashiuri Koi no Hikiami", for the first time in Za Kabuki history, featured a 7-piece orchestra, also made up predominantly of ANU Japan Centre students. The orchestra played an original score, composed specifically for the play by Thomas Spencer Hartley.

2013 marked Za Kabuki's first performance in the absence of long-time director, Shun Ikeda. Instead the role of director was taken on by third-year ANU student and former kuroko, Noriyuki Yabe. Despite the timing of the performance coinciding with exam period, the 2013 performance of Kagotsurube managed to sell over four hundred tickets in a twenty-four-hour period and was greatly praised by critics.

Past Performances[edit]

Year Title English Title Author Producer Director
2016 Iwashi Uri Koi Hikiami The Sardine Seller's Net of Love Yukio Mishima <3 Erin McCullagh, Alexander Joske Shun Ikeda
2015 Kumo ni Magou Ueno no Hatsuhana Kochiyama The Extortionist Kawatake Shinshichi II Esther Soh, Tierney Boel Shun Ikeda
2014 Sukeroku Sukeroku Joshua Pako Naomi Holm, Cianne So Yun Jeong Shun Ikeda
2013 Kagotsurube Sato No Eizame Kagotsurube The Haunted Sword Kawatake Shinshichi III Jia Eon Cheng, Katherine Zhou Nori Yabe
2012 Kenuki The Whisker Tweezers Nakata Mansuke Masaya Kimura Shun Ikeda
2011 Iwashi Uri Koi Hikiami The Sardine Seller's Net of Love Yukio Mishima Dia Jalil Shun Ikeda
2010 Bunshichi Motoyui Ninjyou Banashi Topnot Bunshichi: A Story of Human Relations Enokido Kenji Kaima Negishi, Haru Depp Shun Ikeda
2009 Ise Ondo Koi no Netaba Dancing with a Sleeping Blade Chikamatsu Tokuzo Rachael McAndrew Shun Ikeda
2008 Hakata Kojoro Namimakura Love At Sea Chikamatsu Monzaemon Michiko Takimoto Masafumi Matsumoto
2007 Kanadehon Chushingura The Treasury of Loyal Retainers Takeda Izumo Elli Kim Shun Ikeda
2006 Iwashiuri Koi no Hikiami Sardine Seller Casts The Net of Love Yukio Mishima Irene Abarquez Shun Ikeda
2005 Shinju Ten no Amijima The Love Suicides at Amijima Chikamatsu Monzaemon Will Mitchell / Peri Jenkins Shun Ikeda
2004 Koi no Tayori Yamato Oorai The Courier for Hell Chikamatsu Monzaemon  ? Shun Ikeda
2003 Ninjo Banashi Bunshichi Motoyui Topknot Bunshichi: A Tale of Human Relations Enokido Kenji Stephen Harrington Shun Ikeda
2002 Iwashiuri Koi no Hikiami Catching a Fish Called Love Yukio Mishima Catherine Bailey Shun Ikeda
2001 Kanadehon Chūshingura (7-dan-me) The Legend of the 47 Ronin (Act 7) Takeda Izumo  ? Shun Ikeda


See also[edit]