“Asian American Theatre Re-imagined: Shogun Macbeth in New York”
Weyward Macbeth: Signs of Race. Ed. Scott Newstok and Ayanna Thompson. New York: Palgrave, 2009. 182-190.
Shakespeare’s Macbeth has a long and varied history of Asian-style enactments. Among the best known performances are Akira Kurosawa’s film Throne of Blood (1957), Yukio Ninagawa’s kabuki-style “cherry blossom” Macbeth (1985), Wu Hsing-kuo’s Peking opera The Kingdom of Desire (1987), Tadashi Suzuki’s all-male The Chronicle of Macbeth (1988; English and Japanese versions), Shozo Sato’s Kabuki Macbeth (1997), Sato and Karen Sunde’s Kabuki Lady Macbeth (2005), and Charles Fee’s kabuki-inflected Macbeth (2008) (these last three in English), all screened or staged multiple times in North America.
These works either map the English imaginary of Scottish incivility onto what is perceived to be equivalent Asian contexts (as Kurosawa’s film does), or create a new performance idiom from amalgamated elements from various traditional Asian theatre styles (as Sato’s production does). This chapter explores the ways in which Macbeth has transformed Asian American theatre since the 1980s.