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Case Study: Eating kabuki with your fingers

The brief
Kabuki is a form of avant-garde dance from Japan, perhaps best known for its unmistakeable makeup style, and extravagant costumes. 

Shochiku Minami-za is a traditional Kabuki theatre in Kyoto, with seating for over 1,000. The current building dates from 1929, but the history of the theatre dates back to the Edo period in the 1600s. For this brief, the theatre wanted to promote an exhibition in late 2017 entitled Kabuki: Art & Artifacts Exhibition in Kyoto. The theatre briefed Dentsu to reach out to younger audiences, to educate them on the uniqueness of Kabuki.  


The idea
Once the theatre had approached Dentsu, Producer Ryo Kagami offered the job to Creative Director Yoshihiro Yagi; he was from Kyoto and understood the cultural importance of the theatre. With the idea to reach new, younger, audiences, the team decided to take a fresh approach, as explained by Art Director Yuki Tsutsumi "we didn't think too much about the current Kabuki. Because we would like to create a new image of it."

But to do so, they must revisit the origins of Kabuki, and understand its essence. Attending Kabuki performances for the first time as part of their research, Tsutsumi and his copywriting partner Marina Danjo realised that the high-impact dancing and costumes would appeal to an audience demographic who had never previously considered Kabuki. 

So they opted to adapt these ancient elements into modern icons, which expressed the strangeness of Kabuki. These would form the core elements of the posters.

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