Hong Kong staging of Ninagawa’s Macbeth to go ahead despite Japanese director’s death

Samurai-style adaptation of Macbeth at 1985 Edinburgh Festival set Ninagawa. who has died aged 80, on path to worldwide fame; he adapted most of Shakespeare and ancient Greek tragedies

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 May, 2016, 10:45am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 May, 2016, 11:17am

Hong Kong audiences will still have the chance to see Yukio Ninagawa’s new adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth in July 2017 despite the death of the legendary Japanese director on Thursday at the age of 80.

The world-renowned stage director, known for his adaptations of Shakespeare, died on Thursday at a Tokyo hospital of complications from pneumonia, his theatre and a family member announced. The director had reportedly been hospitalised since December.

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He was last in Hong Kong in 2014 when he brought over Ravens, We Shall Load Bullets for the New Vision Arts Festival. He had to be treated in hospital in Hong Kong for pneumonia. The Leisure and Cultural Services Department arranged for the performance of Macbeth as part of celebrations next year of the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty. It said on Friday that the performance would go ahead.

Ninagawa’s daughter, photographer Mika Ninagawa, mentioned his passing 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, Ninagawa’s native region north of Tokyo.

Ninagawa’s 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.