Everyone is familiar with the story of “A Christmas Carol,” where Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. My guest today, Nick Ishimaru, is the artistic director of “A Noh Christmas Carol,” a Japanese spin on the timeless Charles Dickens classic. Mixing in traditional styles of kabuki theater, “A Noh Christmas Carol” takes us to 19th century Japan as Sukurooji Ebezo is introduced to the 3 ghosts of Christmas. Make sure to catch the production this holiday season.

Website: http://bit.ly/2z4bQSr             Tickets: http://bit.ly/2jTeVgp


  • Got into theater at age 12, going to theater school
  • Went to Colorado State, majored in theater, minor in Japanese

Artistic Director

  • 2nd full production
  • 2012, began doing small productions
  • Learning how to use words

Production Planning

  • Begins 8 to 18 months before show open
  • Need to acquire grants for funding, budget early on, assemble production team
  • Watching it come together in the last few days, always the most hectic
  • Tech work is most difficult, have a few rehearsals

Show night

  • Don’t make tweaks to show as performance goes on
  • Actors will adjust their performance
  • Director is busy doing other things during the show

Theater of Yugen

  • Founded in 1987, Located on Mariposa St. in San Francisco
  • Part of Project Artaud Complex, not a founding member
  • Founded by Yuriko Doi, came to U.S. to develop theater career
  • Started with Japanese comedy, Kyogen

Noh Theater

  • One of the oldest forms of theater/ history
  • Ceremonial purposes, can be slow paced, performers wear masks
  • Yugen means profound elegance, deep levity

Noh Christmas Carol

  • Using Noh aspects to tell the story
  • Similar lessons, but more Buddhist centric
  • Create a reconnection to the community


  • Japanese theater usually done by men, Yugen uses women
  • Kabuki Theater very corporate on professional level
  • Noh allows women in performances, Kyogen does not
  • Yugen has very heavy female casts/ audience
  • Actors playing multiple roles/ train their voices

Vocal Training

  • Air and breathing exercises
  • Many cast members have background in singing
  • Work with performers, teach them the history if Japanese Theater

Kabuki Training

  • Voice training, how to walk and move, all very physical forms of theater
  • Noh Theater uses fans to point/ gesture
  • Training classes for public as well


  • Only Kabuki Theater uses makeup, Noh and Kyogen use masks
  • Specific designs w/personal touches for Christmas theme
  • Lots of costume changes during the show

Opening Night

  • Great reviews and receptions
  • Show runs through Christmas Eve
  • Theater does four shows per year
  • Need Grant and donor supports

Wrap up/ Contact info


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