Leading kabuki troupe to perform in Rome

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The Independent Online

Shochiku Grand Kabuki, a world-famous traditional Japanese theatre troupe, will feature their star Ebizo Ichikawa XI in two performances in Rome later this month, organisers said Monday.

It will be the troupe's first visit to Italy in 14 years, Japanese Ambassador to Italy Hiroyasu Ando told a news conference.

About a dozen private sponsors including leading Japanese companies are footing the bill this time, Ando said, noting that the cost of the stage sets alone is some two million euros (2.4 million dollars).

The show, "Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees," involves about 100 people including 26 actors and 22 musicians, he said.

The troupe's external relations chief Masao Nakano noted that kabuki "has more than 400 years of history but remains an extremely popular art form," attracting sell-out audiences every night in Japan.

Shochiku Grand Kabuki will perform at Rome's Argentina Theatre on June 21 and 22 after a stint of nearly two weeks in London.

The current Ebizo Ichikawa - a dynastic stage name that has been handed down since the 17th century - is also a prominent film and television actor in Japan.