Japanese stage director helmed samurai-style Macbeth

Yukio Ninagawa.

TOKYO • Yukio Ninagawa, a world-renowned Japanese stage director known for his adaptations of Shakespeare, died on Thursday in a Tokyo hospital, his theatre and a family member announced. He was 80.

He died of complications from pneumonia. The director had reportedly been hospitalised since December.

Ninagawa's daughter, photographer Mika Ninagawa, mentioned his death on her blog. "He was a cool father who fought until the end," she wrote.

Ninagawa debuted as a director in 1969 and gained international fame at the 1985 Edinburgh Festival, when he directed a samurai-style Macbeth in which actors performed in Japanese kimono on a stage with a giant Buddhist altar.

He adapted most of Shakespeare's works for the stage - including Romeo And Juliet, Hamlet and Richard III - and launched a project to perform the playwright's entire canon of plays in Saitama prefecture, north of Tokyo, where he was from. His productions have been performed regularly overseas since he brought his version of the Greek tragedy, Medea by Euripides, to Greece and Italy in 1983.

The internationally acclaimed director became a member of the Shakespeare Globe Council at London's Globe Theatre and in 2002 was awarded the title of Commander of the Order of the British Empire.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2016, with the headline 'Japanese stage director helmed samurai-style Macbeth'. Print Edition | Subscribe