On 5 and 6 October the Shakespeare Institute and Waseda University collaborated in two events commemorating the life and work of the great Japanese director of Shakespeare, Yukio Ninagawa (1936-2016).
The Shakespeare Institute's Thursday seminar on the 5th was addressed by Professor Ryuichi Kodama, the vice director of the Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum at Waseda, and by the distinguished Japanese theatre critic Hiroko Namaguchi.
On the 6th, a substantial party from the Institute travelled from Stratford to London to attend a symposium on Ninagawa at the Japanese Embassy before seeing Ninagawa's company performing *Macbeth* at the Barbican in the evening. The symposium included a panel of English observers of Ninagawa's career (the veteran Guardian theatre critic Michael Billington, the director of the Shakespeare Institute, Michael Dobson, the RSC director Phillip Breen, who worked with Ninagawa towards the end of his career, and Institute PhD student Rosalind Fielding, who has been researching Ninagawa's work in Tokyo); a presentation about Waseda's magnificent theatre archive was given by Kotaro Shibata; and Professor Kodama conducted an interview with the kabuki onnagata actor Kyozo Nakamura, currently playing the First Witch in Macbeth, who was able to describe Ninagawa's rehearsal techniques and even to confirm the legend that when frustrated with his actors Ninagawa sometimes threw ashtrays at them.
These two high-profile days of Anglo-Japanese discussions about Ninagawa's career as an interpreter of Shakespeare, supported not only by the universities of Birmingham and Waseda but by the Japan Foundation and the Japanese ambassador to the UK, Koji Tsuruoka, represented a major contribution to the understanding of what this great director's work meant to both Japanese and British audiences.