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Hideki Noda OBE - A Night at the Kabuki Interview

Legendary Japanese theatre maker Hideki Noda OBE brings his latest production to Sadler's Wells this September. A Night at the Kabuki combines Queen's beloved theatre album 'A Night at the Opera' and Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet for a unique piece of theatre.

Mr. Noda and his theatre company Noda Map brings the production to London between the 22nd - 24th of September 2022 with tickets available from Ahead of the production, I spoke to Mr. Noda about what an audience can expect from the show.

Our chat began with Mr. Noda explaining how he began his career in London "I started my career in London 20 years ago, in 2006 we performed at Soho Theatre with the production The Bee which was a breakthrough for me in my London career."

Mr. Noda explained how he got attached to the project. "About four years ago I was approached with an offer by Queen's team to make a new production using the album 'A Night at the Opera', they like Japanese culture so they wanted me to write and direct a script. At the time I already started to write a new script based on Romeo and Juliet and I wanted to write after Romeo and Juliet if they survived. At the time I got the offer from Queen's side, I tried to find the connection between Romeo and Juliet and the album. I, of course, knew the music and found a lot of connections coming from 'Bohemian Rhapsody' with the story about a boy who has killed someone which associates back with Romeo who kills Tybalt. 'Love of my Life' is definitely Romeo and Juliet'."

A Night at the Kabuki is set in 12th century Japan at the time of the Samurai something that is clearly important to Mr. Noda. "I tried to use Japanese history as the story. The conflict between Capulet and Montague is quite similar to the Japenese clans at the beginning of the Samurai era. This factor gives me a lot of inspiration".

We delved further into how the use of Queen's music fits into the piece. "Some songs are easy to follow what is written but other songs I'm using totally different. Another image coming from the original songs. Some songs are very joyful but I try to use them in a non-joyful way."

A Night at the Kabui artwork.

With the piece already having been performed in his native Japan Mr. Noda is looking forward to bringing the piece to a British audience. "Usually the British audience I focus on the language aspect but I want to show more visual and physical elements. British audiences usually enjoy musicals and contemporary dance but I think my production is a cross point between the two. I hope a British audience has never seen this type of play".

Mr. Noda worked on numerous adaptions of Shakespeare now, I asked him what brings him back to the Bard's work. "Shakespeare is a kind of god, and when we read the text in Japanese, we don't know how wonderful the language is but still I can respect the structure of the plays. Even in the translation, I can feel the fantastic rhyme." 

I asked Mr. Noda what he would like people to take away from seeing 'A Night at the Kabuki'. "It's up to you as an audience but I want to show our physicality. 30 years ago when I came to London to study theatre I saw lots of physical theatre and I respected the London Theatre. Recently I come here it's a bit difficult to find physical theatre I like so I want to show that side to an audience."

Does Mr. Noda feel daunted about bringing those British elements such as Queen and Shakespeare back to a British audience in his own style? "Yes. I've had harsh experiences here in London" he laughs "but coming to London to perform is a bit of study of what the theatre is".

Talk turned to what was the first piece of theatre that Mr. Noda could remember seeing "Midsummer Nights Dream directed by Peter Brook, a legendary piece all over the world. When I was a high school student the production came to Tokyo and I was very fortunate to see that. In those days I never thought of my future that I'd become a theatre director or an actor but it was a fantastic world. It was kind of a dream."

In all my interviews I try and ask the philosophical question of 'what does theatre mean to you?' Mr. Noda explained 'when I was younger if I was asked I never wanted to answer that theatre is life but now I can say that theatre is the rest of my life.'. 

To wrap up our chat I asked Mr. Noda to explain why anyone should come and check out 'A Night at the Kabuki'. He said, "after the COVID-19 pandemic seeing people in front of you gives you happiness so please come to the theatre".

A Night at the Kabuki comes to Sadler's Wells from the 22nd to the 24th of September 2022. Tickets are available from

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