Stage version of Kurosawa’s ‘Macbeth’ film is a chrysanthemum ‘Throne’

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Shakespeare junkies and Akira Kurosawa freaks rejoice — the New York premiere of “Throne of Blood,” is coming to BAM’s Next Wave Festival starting Nov. 10.

We’re not talking about Kurosawa’s 1957 classic, but director Ping Chong’s new stage adaptation. Yes, this is a play about a film about a play. Wrap your head around that.

“Kurosawa kept the spirit of ‘Macbeth,’ and I keep the spirit of Kurosawa,” said Chong, a legend of the interdisciplinary avant-garde theater world going back to when Kurosawa was making his movie about Shakespeare’s classic tale of a power-hungry general.

In Chong’s version, traditional samurai armor, Japanese feudal music, martial art forms and hypnotic Kabuki dance infuse the classic with the modern (the Forest Spirit sports some seriously vamped-up Twisted Sister hair).

“The film has epic proportions, so to translate it to the stage is to be faithful to the film, but also faithful to what theater is,” Chong said.

To reflect Kurosawa’s monochrome picture, the costumes of this feudal Japan-era production are almost entirely in grayscale, with the exception of Washizu and Lady Asaji — aka Macbeth and Lady Macbeth — who literally become multicolored as they grow in power.

“The colors change, the characters change, and there’s so many elements that it’s like the film comes alive in 3D,” said actress, Ako, who plays Lady Asaji.

“Throne of Blood” at BAM Howard Gilman Opera House [30 Lafayette Ave. at Ashland Place in Fort Greene, (718) 636-4100], Nov. 10-13 at 7:30 pm. Tickets $25-$60. For info, visit

Updated 4:35 pm, July 9, 2018
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