Lighting for new Kabukiza theater seeks the look of candlelight

November 21, 2012

By YUKA NISHIMOTO/ Staff Writer

After three years of being dark, the lights will be back on at the new Kabukiza theater, as a Tokyo company is fine-tuning the glow of energy-efficient lighting to create the effect of candlelight.

Marumo Electric Co. will install the halogen bulbs and light-emitting diodes and is trying to tweak them to mimic the softer illumination given off by candles, before the theater, located in Tokyo's Ginza district, reopens in the spring. The gold and silver threads of silk costumes and the traditional makeup--the Kabuki actor's face painted white and the eyes outlined in red--can attain their best hues under illumination like candlelight.

The new lighting system will eventually replace conventional incandescent bulbs, production of which is expected to end in the near future due to their high energy usage. The new Kabukiza will be the nation’s first live theater to install such a lighting system.

Marumo Electric held a dress rehearsal at a Kabuki hall in Ichikawamisato, Yamanashi Prefecture, on Nov. 16 to determine how the halogen lamps and LED lighting should be developed to make the performers and their costumes look their best.

Halogen bulbs, which use 10 to 15 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, will be used for stage lighting. Marumo Electric has made a trial halogen lamp to try to bring its glare to a warmer hue.

An LED lighting system will replace halogen bulbs that were used to create colored lighting. An LED lighting system’s power usage is only one-20th that of halogen bulbs.

Marumo Electric has a long history of working with the Kabukiza theater.

The company had developed the nation’s first stage lighting system for a large commercial theater when the Kabukiza was rebuilt in 1924 after a fire in 1921 had destroyed the building.

Masatoshi Marumo, president of Marumo Electric, said he is glad to be involved in the latest lighting update to the theater.

“I am happy to continue on a lighting project my grandfather took up,” he said.

But the company still has much work to do before the curtain goes up.

“We have only achieved 90 percent of our target, with the light from the halogen bulbs still too bright,” said Tomoya Ikeda, a lighting planner who worked at the Kabukiza for 45 years.

“We will continue using incandescent bulbs until we attain 100 percent, even after the opening.”

The new Kabukiza will open on April 2 after being closed since April 2010, while the old theater was being razed and the new one built.

By YUKA NISHIMOTO/ Staff Writer
  • 1
submit to reddit
A worker examines the light-emitting diode lighting system that will be installed at the new Kabukiza theater in Tokyo during a check in Ichikawamisato, Yamanashi Prefecture, on Nov. 16. The lamps below the LEDs are halogen lamps covered with color film. (Mari Endo)

A worker examines the light-emitting diode lighting system that will be installed at the new Kabukiza theater in Tokyo during a check in Ichikawamisato, Yamanashi Prefecture, on Nov. 16. The lamps below the LEDs are halogen lamps covered with color film. (Mari Endo)

Toggle
  • A worker examines the light-emitting diode lighting system that will be installed at the new Kabukiza theater in Tokyo during a check in Ichikawamisato, Yamanashi Prefecture, on Nov. 16. The lamps below the LEDs are halogen lamps covered with color film. (Mari Endo)

More AJW