Isle of Wight What's On Guide: 2023 Events OnTheWight

Busu & The Damask Drum

Wednesday 9 7.30pmAugust


Quay Arts

Sea Street
Newport Harbour
Isle of Wight
PO30 5BD

01983 822490

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Busu & The Damask Drum


Japanese Ghost Story Rouses a Subversive Spirit

An all-female theatre group’s retelling of a Japanese ghost story and a classic farce aims to rekindle the subversive spirit of one of the country’s greatest writers.

StoneCrabs Thetre UK, recently relocated to Isle of Wight, in collaboration with Busu Theatre, from Tokyo, will present its own vibrant versions of Yukio Mishima’s tragic supernatural tale The Damask Drum (a Noh drama) and Busu (a knockabout Kyogen farce) at QUAY ARTS before it performs in London and at the 70th Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The short pieces are packed with action, bright costumes, traditional drumming, music and Awa dance and have been reinvigorated to make the mini Japanese classics accessible to a 21st century Western millennial audience.

Director Franko Figueiredo says: “It has been described as Manga meets Mishima. It’s subversive, exciting, fast, fun and colourful. The idea is to rouse, entertain and challenge audiences outside Japan just as Mishima’s plays have done in his homeland for the past 50 years.”

Mishima’s took the subject matter of the Noh plays and re-imagined them as modern dramas accessible to his ever-growing fans and audiences. Critics have compared his modern Noh plays to the works of Cocteau, O’Neill and even Brecht as they use classic subjects, themes and stories, reworking them for a contemporary audience.

Mishima, who committed ritual suicide in 1970 after the failure of his attempted military coup, was one of Japan’s most influential 20th century writers and was considered for the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was renowned for updating traditional forms and making them relevant to contemporary audiences.

The production of Busu and The Damask Drum is intended to bring on a new generation of young Japanese theatre makers devising international work with UK artists. Together, they hope the project will be a stepping stone to presenting the work across Europe.

Busu (The Delicious Poison) is a comedy where the servants Tarō-kaja and Jirō-kaja are entrusted with a very special item by their master, but told not to eat it as it is poison; naturally, the temptation proves irresistible.

In the Damask Drum a gardener-cum-caretaker falls in love with a lawyer. Despite 101 love letters, the lawyer is unmoved. She cruelly sets him an impossible challenge with the promise of her love if he succeeds – the consequences are tragic and supernatural.