Kwaidan - Japanese Ghost Stories

A Devised Show with young people based on short stories

Dende was invited to return to Contact Theater in Manchester and work with CYAC - Contact Young Actors' Company to create their 2008 Christmas Show. Based on Japanese traditional ghost stories, horror films and manga, we devised with the 15-strong cast a spooky and eery show with bags of homage to Kurosawa epic films, Ultra Man, Kabuki, Noh, Kyogen and obviously The Ringu.

The show was loosely based on the book Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things by Lafcadio Hearn that features several Japanese ghost stories. This compilation was later used as the basis for a movie called Kwaidan by Masaki Kobayashi from 1964. The amazing visuals of the film and its spooky soundtrack were a huge influence in the aesthetics of the show.

This was a great opportunity for both both Andre Pink and Montse Gili (co-directors) to share their knowledge of different Japanese artforms with the young performers, since they both lived in Japan and studied their theatre and culture. 

The setup tell the different stories was rather ingenious: a group of young people break up into Contact Theatre's main theatre in a not-so-far future. The Theatre was now derelict and closed, perhaps victim of funding cuts, and the young people encounter bits of set and costumes from a past production inspired by Japan. They evoke Japanese ghosts that inhabit the theatre and need to have their stories reenacted in order to get free. Reality and fiction entertwine.

This was the first time that Dende Collective created a show for the main space at Contact Theatre.