This spooky season, the University of Colorado Boulder’s Department of Theatre and Dance will bring the Halloween spirit to CU audiences with seven chilling ghost stories. Inspired by a legendary Japanese kabuki play, “Kaidan+: Something Strange and Spectral” has been adapted for modern audiences with global, multi-cultural ghost stories, including one about Alfred Packer, known as “The Colorado Cannibal.” From Oct. 29 – Nov. 7, the show will be performed at the University Theatre.
“My favorite aspect of this show is the multi-ethnic, diverse cast,” director Cecilia J. Pang said. “They are committed and dedicated and have so much to contribute. Seeing all the students from various cultures coming together to help realize one singular concept is most gratifying aspect to me as the director.”
As society grew more stable at the beginning of the 17th century in Japan, the fear and tension of civil war became less of a concern. At this time, Kabuki, elaborate dramas with stylized singing and dancing, became very popular for the common people. The original version of this ghost play, “Tôkaidô Yotsuya Kaidan” (Ghost Story of Yotsuya), was performed for the first time in the 7th lunar month of 1825 in Japan. In each story of Kaidan, there is frequently a revenge motif, allowing the audiences to ponder the horrors of vengeance. Many scenes end in bloody and disturbing death.
The style and the legends of these plays are still very prominent to this day, which is why the Department of Theatre and Dance has chosen to add their own spin on these ghost stories.
The chilling stories take place in many different cultural settings, including a haunted bridge in Australia, a riverbank in Latin America, the terrifying Wild West of Colorado, a sinister boarding school in Africa, a domestic haunted residence in Japan, the desolate and bleak setting of the South Pole and a gruesome Scottish battlefield.
The set of “Kaidan+” is rather minimalistic with a few unique props. These include a mysterious, haunted tent and faux snow that blows across the stage in the South Pole story and a fence with a mannequin to represent a ghost in the Australian story. After each scene, an image describing the origins of the story is projected onto the stage screen to keep audiences engaged while the cast quickly transitions to their next story.
“The most important part of this show was the collaboration aspect,” stage director Clara Hoppe said. “For instance, we needed to cut a good portion of the show in order to meet our goal of a 90-minute run. With the help of the directing team, the actors, the designers and the technicians, we were able to select parts of the show that were essential and would bring out the best in each story and to cut the parts that were not. All in all, this made for a beautiful show that met our run time goals.”
From Oct. 29 – Nov. 7, “Kaidan+, Something Strange and Spectral” will be performed at the University Theatre at CU Boulder. Tickets on sale through CU Presents here.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Haley Lauritzen at email@example.com.