The year 2014 marks 225 years since the founding of Backes & Strauss – but Kabuki dates back even further, to the start of the 17th century when it came into being as a genre of theater performed exclusively by women.
It soon came to the attention of the Imperial court, after which the tradition of an all-female cast was reversed so that males played the roles of both men and women.
Despite centuries of dynastic change, the burning down of theaters by air strike and attempts to undermine the art form by the Occupation Forces after the Second World War, Kabuki has survived and thrived. It is now the most popular of all traditional styles of Japanese drama and their star actors often take leading roles in television and film.
To outsiders, however, the long, several-act plays based on history, dance or domestic life were often bewildering – until the widespread introduction of audio guides during the 1970s opened up the art form to the wider world.
Now, Kabukiza theater is equipped with a sophisticated LCD terminal which provides commentary, explanation and translation to help watchers understand the remarkable stories as they are played out on the elaborate Kabuki stage, which is designed for maximum dramatic effect with its ‘flower path’ walk way extending in to the audience and trap doors to enhance the element of surprise.
In its role as supporting the theatre’s management, Backes & Strauss will display information on the seat terminals about its own long history and the magnificent diamond watches it creates today – actual examples of which can be seen in two showcases prominently positioned within the Kabukiza.
“It seems fitting that ‘Kabuki’ can be translated as ‘out of the ordinary,’ because that is also a description that can be applied to Backes & Strauss,” said the firm’s CEO Vartkess Knadjian.