Star Wars has been influenced by Japanese culture and storytelling from the very beginning. George Lucas has said that the Jedi were inspired by Japanese samurai. In fact, Lucas was so inspired by legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa's films that he initially offered the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi to a Japanese actor who had appeared in several Kurosawa films. The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson spoke in an exclusive Screen Rant interview about how viewing classic samurai films also inspired his creative process.
According to Nerdist, the full title for the kabuki adaptation is Star Wars Kabuki-Rennosuke Hikarigatana Sanbon, which translates loosely to Star Wars Kabuki: Ren and the Three Lightsabers. Featuring central scenes from the films in the new trilogy, the officially sanctioned Star Wars kabuki play will feature Ichikawa Ebizo, one of Japan's most renowned kabuki performers, as Kylo Ren. "Star Wars Kabuki will depict the love and loss felt by the Skywalker family over the past 40-plus years,” Ichikawa said in a press release about the upcoming performance. “Whether you’re a Star Wars lover or a kabuki lover, it ’s a great piece to enjoy.” While the specific venue for the Star Wars Kabuki production has yet to be announced, the show is currently slated for a one night only performance on November 28th in Tokyo.
Kabuki is a historic form of Japanese theater, and it is traditionally filled with distinguished dancing and elaborate costumes and masks. Like so many other elements of the Star Wars universe, Kylo Ren's mask design was influenced by kabuki. The stage show will be a treat for Star Wars fans eagerly awaiting the release of The Rise of Skywalker on December 20th. Disney has begun promoting the film's holiday premiere in earnest, and this official stage production will certainly increase interest in Japan.
Since the release of the original trilogy by Lucas, Star Wars has branched out into other forms of media such as video games, comic books, novels, and, most recently, streaming TV shows such as The Mandalorian. But original stage plays are a new medium for the franchise, although kabuki is particularly relevant given the movies' strong Japanese influences. Although fans across the globe may not be able to fly in to view the live performance, images or videos from the event may yet be released so that Star Wars fans everywhere can appreciate the kabuki interpretation of the Skywalker saga. If not, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be in theaters soon enough.