Japan: 2019

A Trio of World Premieres
Shakespeare in the Original Pronunciation

Romeo & Juliet
Hamlet
Macbeth

Warming up in Bessho Onsen
At rest in Yusuhara, Kochi

The Shakespeare Ensemble raised three plays in three days, using using modern reworking of Elizabethan rehearsal practices, and resonances from modern Kabuki practices. The Ensemble criss-crossed the country travelling from Nagano to Kochi, from Kyoto to Tokyo offering a fresh perspective on Shakespeare to Japan. 

A Japanese actor joined the Ensemble for the world première of Shakespeare in Original Pronunciation in Japan, and a world first to hear Japanese-English Original Pronunciation.

With this tour of Japan they took a step closer to the kind of working dynamic Shakespeare’s actors shared. Playing in a different type of space for every performance, shifting between outdoor, indoor, proscenium, traverse, the round, and promenade.

They used no props no set, no costume, no shoes. Instead, they wore their own clothes, and used silk scarves instead of costume changes for character doubling; they used few props – only a dagger and a crown – arming themselves with adaptations of the accent & gestures of the time to aid their storytelling.

The gesture work comes from working with Beth Burns and her Hidden Room Theatre in Austin. In August 2019 they were exploring Jacobean gesture for the first time, having mainly explored Restoration gesture hitherto. Ben workshopped with them, and adapted the gestures for the Japanese tragedy trio.

Travelling across the country with a booke-holder that struck a bell between each scene, the ever-changing 11th member of the ensemble became the space. The 12th, and most important member, the audiences they met, performed for, and played with.

outdoor stage in Bessho-onsen
Shrine Stage, Bessho onsen, Nagano