Shakespeare has been performed in countless different languages in countries around the world -- but last week a theatre in Tokyo added a new twist by staging 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' in Japanese with all the parts played a puppets.
SV Puppets' heads floating through air (4 shots)
MV & CU Puppeteer Akimtsu Tomonaga making puppets (4 shots)
MV Dolls in workshop
CU Puppet's head PAN TO feet
MV Puppet 'walked' by operator
GV Play in progress (2 shots)
CU Girl takes off black mask
CU Actor takes of black mask
MV Operator working puppet
GV Play continues
MV & GV Puck concludes play (2 shots)
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Background: Shakespeare has been performed in countless different languages in countries around the world -- but last week a theatre in Tokyo added a new twist by staging 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' in Japanese with all the parts played a puppets.
SYNOPSIS: Japan has a long tradition of puppet theatre, called bunraku. So the play, which opened in Tokyo on Thursday, (11 August) didn't come as so much of a shock to the Tokyo audience as it might have to Shakespearean purists.
The life-six puppets were all specially made for the production by Akimitsu Tomonaga, one of the country's top puppeteers, They're worked by operators dressed completely in black, including face masks, who speak the lines of the play.
Tomanga made more than seventy puppets for A Midsummer Night's Dream, which was adapted for bunraku by Japanese director Kooji Shimizu. Like other traditional arts in Japan, bunraku takes years of practice to perfect. Operators have to spend a long apprenticeship working under a master-craftsman before they learn to move the puppets realistically enough.
This is one thing the audience in Japan never sees -- the operator without a face mask of black silk. There's a big demand for puppets shows in Tokyo and other parts of the country, but it's not often that life-size figures are used, as in Shimizu's production.
Another invasion of Shimzu's was the modern lighting on stage. Shakespeare would certainly not have recognised his own work if he'd been in the audience. But at least the last words of A Midsummer Night's Dream were still, as they always have been, those of Puck -- the Japanese equivalent of 'Think you have but slumbered here/While these visions did appear".