Japanese Lady Macbeth & Ofelia in York, Ostrava and Gdańsk

York Shakespeare Festival is fast approching . One of its programme point is extraordinary performance “Two Shakespeare Heroines- Lady Macbeth & Ophelia” by acclaimed Japanese actress Aki Isoda. York is a first stop in European tour. Thanks to ESFN cooperation this unusual performance, combining eastern and western theatrical traditions, will travel further to Ostrava and Gdańsk.

Japanese actress, Aki Isoda has created her ‘One Woman Plays’ by taking entire Shakespeare plays and stripping them down to the action and words of the central female character – the heroine – dramatically revealing the often tragic, drama of these major female roles.

She has portrayed many Shakespearian heroines – Lady Macbeth, Ophelia, Viola, Portia, Katherine and Tatiana on the Japanese stage, and the ‘One Woman Plays’ follow very much in the footsteps of the traditional Japanese drama form of Noh, where the whole play can centre on one character.

Indeed, the ‘One Woman Plays’ represent a carefully crafted marriage of both Western theatre, in terms of the language and story, and traditional Japanese theatre in its acting style and stage presentation. This programme’s two pieces, both revealing their subject’s dramatic unraveling, are designed to compliment and contrast with each other. The first heroine, Lady Macbeth, is a strong willed character, presented in Western clothing allowing her to move and act freely. In direct contrast, Ophelia dresses in Japanese kimono – beautiful but restrictive; expressing the restrained frailty of her character.

The minimalist stage design provides contrast to the vivid colours of all of these costumes –and is further enriched by the Kabuki technique, Hikinuki, of quick costume changes happening while still on stage. Lighting and sound are also cleverly marshalled to help represent the actions and attitudes of the play’s other invisible characters – giving a holistic sensation to the scenes.

Tour Performances
Aki Isoda’s One Woman Shakespeare: Lady Macbeth & A Vision of Ophelia:

Friday 8th May 19:30
De Grey Rooms, York International Shakespeare Festival, York, UK

Sunday 10th May 19:30
De Grey Rooms, York International Shakespeare Festival, York, UK

Wednesday 13th May, 19:00
Multi-Disciplinary Arts Centre Cooltour, Ostrava, Czech Republic

Saturday 16th May, 19:00
Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre, Gdańsk, Poland

Sunday 17th May, 13:00
Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre, Gdańsk, Poland