Programming Highlights: Kabuki Workshops

Thanks to our special exhibition Samurai: Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection, our education department has been absorbed in all things Japanese! Thousands of origami cranes, hundreds of paper kabuto (warrior helmets), tea ceremonies, calligraphy workshops, and koto (a stringed instrument) performances in the auditorium of the new Piano Pavilion are among our favorite highlights from the past six months.

Certainly the most dramatic (and loudest) moments occurred during the interactive Kabuki Theater master classes, led by the talented Kent Williams. Participants of all ages—high school students, adults, and young children—were transported into samurai history and culture.  

So what is Kabuki? It’s a traditional Japanese drama with singing and dancing that is performed in a highly stylized manner. Actors typically wear heavy makeup and elaborate costumes and use handheld fans to express key actions and emotions. Workshop participants dressed in colorful Kabuki costumes and learned about the movements and expressions associated with specific character types in traditional Kabuki. The grand finale was a brief “staged production” showcasing a full cast of samurai warriors, demure ladies in kimonos, a terrifying villain, and, of course, the hero who saves the day.    

Special thanks to Imagination Celebration, our programming partner who sponsored 11 Kabuki Theater classes at the Kimbell for Fort Worth ISD high school students.

Here are a few of our favorite moments: