How do you expose youngsters weaned on three-minute music videos to Kabuki, the classical Japanese theater in which performances traditionally last four to five hours?
For starters, shorten the performances.
This weekend, the second in a row, the Kennedy Center Theater for Young People is presenting "The Pocket Kabuki" (pocket as in pocket dictionary) in the center's Theater Lab.
During special one-hour presentations of Kabuki tomorrow and Sunday, actors of the Honolulu Theatre for Youth will explain the history of this 17th century art form that uses men in both male and female roles. Then the troupe will demonstrate the choreography of its traditional pantomime dances and fight scenes, as well as the kinds of elaborate makeup and costumes the actors wear.
The troupe will close with a 20-minute performance of "The Zen Substitute," a comic story of a warlord who, while trying to trick his wife so he can run off and visit a young woman, gets the tables turned on him.
This is the first time the Kennedy Center Theater for Young People has presented Kabuki. Usually, such Japanese drama has been considered too long and too expensive to produce, said Carole C. Sullivan, the center's producing director.
The Theater for Young People was founded 14 years ago to expose children to the performing arts as well, as to the Kennedy Center.
Public performances of "The Pocket Kabuki" will be at 7 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $8.50.