Knights' Tale


27th July 2018

Imperial Theatre (Tokyo), Umeda Theatre (Osaka)

Knights' Tale is based on 'Teseida' by Giovanni Boccaccio, 'The Knight's Tale' by Geoffrey Chaucer and 'Two Noble Kinsmen' by John Fletcher and William Shakespeare.

John Caird wrote the book, Paul Gordon wrote the music and lyrics, Maoko Imai wrote the Japanese book and lyrics and Brad Haak arranged and orchestrated Paul Gordon's score.

Presented by Toho Company, this world premiére production was mounted at the Imperial Theatre in Tokyo on 27th July 2018. It ran there for a month before touring to the Umeda Arts Theatre in Osaka, where it ran until the 15th October.

Because of the Covid crisis, the plan to revive it in 2020 had to be postponed. Instead it was performed in a concert version for two weeks in Tokyo, playing at the Geigeki Concert Hall in Ikebukuro and at Opera City Concert Hall, from August 10th-22nd. Brad Haak re-orchestrated the score for a full symphony orchestra and it was performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic, conducted by Yuji Wakabayashi, with John Caird directing the concert over video link from London.

It was fully revived a year later, opening in Osaka on the 7th September 2021, and touring to Tokyo and Hakata, where it closed on the 29th November 2021.

Director's Notes

Ever since I was a young boy I’ve been fascinated by the romances of mediaeval Europe, the stories of knights and their ladies, kings and princesses, sorcerers and witches, wandering woods and mythical beasts. These are the landscapes of Boccaccio and Chaucer, Mallory and Spencer and in modern times, the magical worlds created by T.H.White, C.S.Lewis and J.R.R.Tolkien. My admiration for these tales survived into adulthood and was deepened by my love for the late romances of Shakespeare’s final years, Pericles, Cymbeline and A Winter’s Tale. But one play, Two Noble Kinsmen, written by Shakespeare in collaboration with his colleague John Fletcher, has always puzzled me as it has so many fine elements characteristic of his late work, but is fatally flawed both by an incoherence in its narrative structure and by a typical weakness in stories based on the mediaeval romantic tradition, a complete lack of interest in the nature, motivations and personalities of its female characters.

When the Toho Company asked me to consider creating a piece for Koichi Domoto and Yoshio Inoue, I returned to the play wondering if it was worth another look and though I at first retained my initial resistance, I started to wonder what had motivated Shakespeare and Fletcher to attempt a dramatisation of the Chaucer tale. The more I thought about it, the more intrigued I became. Shakespeare had more or less retired when he started his collaboration on the play. He had said farewell to the theatre with The Tempest and clearly had little appetite to write another original work. But another problem must have beset him. He had, in a sense, already written his version of Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale much earlier in his creative life.

In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, written nearly 20 years earlier, he had used the characters of Theseus and Hippolyta, turned Palamon and Arcite into Lysander and Demetrius and converted a single princess, Emilia, into two equally attractive young heroines Hermia and Helena – and in the process he created one of the greatest comedies ever written. So when Fletcher came along suggesting another version of The Knight’s Tale, his spirits must have fallen somewhat!

But the more I looked at the plot of Two Noble Kinsmen, the more of the essential Shakespearean richness I discovered. In particular, I was intrigued by the mention in one of the earliest scenes of a missing character, a girl called Flavina – who is never again mentioned in the play. This is most unusual in Shakespeare’s plots. If he mentions a lost character at the beginning of a play, you would expect her to turn up at some point later in the story. This omission is made all the more flagrant by the fact that there is a nameless character in the story known only by her family epithet; she is simply ‘the jailor’s daughter’ and remains so for the whole of the story. Her fate in Two Noble Kinsmen is so unspeakably old-fashioned and misogynistic that the play is more or less unperformable today. But if you make a connection between the jailor’s daughter and the lost character Flavina the plot becomes far more interesting, more romantic and more comedic. Taking advantage of this opportunity also encouraged me to give the characters of Hippolyta and Emilia more strength and self-possession than they have in either of the sources for Two Noble Kinsmen or in the play itself.

So, while it was with great temerity that I took it upon myself to write my own version of this ancient story, I am very happy to have given the ladies just as much power and heart and honour as their knightly ‘masters’ and to have given the noble kinsmen a little less nobility and a little more kindness.

John Caird — 2018

Knights' Tale

Book by John Caird
Music & Lyrics by Paul Gordon
Japanese Book and Lyrics byMaoko Imai
Musical Supervision, Orchestrations and Arrangements byBrad Haak
Based on
Teseidaby Giovanni Boccaccio
The Knights' Taleby Geoffrey Chaucer
Two Noble Kinsmenby John Fletcher and William Shakespeare

Creative Team and Production Staff

DirectorJohn Caird
ChoreographerDavid Parsons
Set DesignerJon Bausor
Lighting DesignerRyuichi Nakagawa
Sound DesignerToshiya Honma
Costume DesignerJean Chan
Hair & Make-UpHiroaki Miyauchi
Fighting ChoreographerYuta Morokaji
Music Director, Additional Orchestrations and Vocal CoachHideya 'Birri' Yamaguchi
Japanese Music Arrangements and OrchestrationsMitsuaki Sato
Additional OrchestrationsConor Keelan
Music AssociateAndy Collopy
ConductorYuji Wakabayashi
Orchestra CoordinatorsTakao Morioka / Takeru Chiba / Nobuya Matsukura / Kaori Seki
Keyboard ProgrammerKeiichiro Koga
Rehearsal PianistsRyoko Mano, Rinko Chinone
Assistant DirectorIkko Ueda
Assistant ChoreographerNatalie Lomonte
Stage ManagerTakashi Hojo
Assistant Set DesignerSatoko Nakane
Assistant Costume DesignerUrara Sakurai
Assistant Sound DesignerMasahiro Akiyama
Assistant Vocal CoachIkuyo Honda
Assistant ProducerHaruka Ogi
ProducersYasuhiko Saitoh / Junichi Tsukada
Stage Management TeamMasatoshi Tokieda / Makoto Nagai / Daisaku Iida / Kimiyoshi Ootomo / Hitoshi Naganuma / Miyabi Fukuda / Uta Mori
InterpretersMaoko Imai / Mayumi Oshima / Akiko Naitou / Miyoko Ito / Mayuko Kawai / Shoko Fukui / Emi Yoshida
Company ManagersMiyuki Kamano / Chika Takanaga
Production CarpenterYasuhiko Nobeshima
Props arranged byYoji Teraoka / NIKE STAGE WORKS
Special Props arranged by Masashi Tanaka (Atelier KHAOS)
Shoes crafted byMitsue Kiguchi (Mishoe)
Costume DepartmentMiki Oto (TOHO STAGE CRAFT CO.,LTD.)
Ornaments crafted byaterlier HINODE
Lighting and LED EffectsMinoru Suzuki (Komaden)
Special EffectsMasashi Itoda (TOKKO)
Video Monitors Supplied byMikio Enomoto (Magnux.Inc)
Musical Instruments Supplied byTakuo Kishi (Sankyosha)
Taikos Supplied byAsano Taiko
TransportationKATO Express
Rehearsal StudiosSumida Park Studio / Imperial Theatre / TOHO Studio

Programme Staff

Directed byReiko Konishi
Designed byShigeru Komai (ye11ow graphic studio japan)
PhotographersJunji Ishiguro / Shunpei Tauchi (TOHO MARKETING Co.,Ltd.) / Masaru Abe (TOHO MARKETING Co.,Ltd.) / Eri Iwata
WritersKanae Uda / Ayako Takahashi
IllustratorMasao Kikuchi (Kikuchi Masao Office Co., Ltd.)
EditorRyoko Takahashi
Printed bySeio Printing Co., Ltd


ArciteKoichi Domoto
PalamonYoshio Inoue
EmiliaKei Otozuki
Jailor's DaughterMone Kamishiraishi
TheseusYuji Kishi
Creon / GeraldKenya Osumi
HippolytaKaho Shimada
Jailor / Backup SingerNoriyuki Konishi
Pentheus / Backup SingerHirotaka Terui
Pirithous / Backup SingerTomohiko Nakai
Valerius / RycasKyohei Kanda
Three Queens / Backup SingersIkuyo Aoyama, Ririko Nanase, Motoko Orii
Doctor / SoldierMidori Fujisaki
Freckled Nell / Theban SoldierAsami Ishii
Doe / GlauceRey Endo
Doe / Antiope / FrizMei Kadoma
Soldier / Backup SingerSayaka Kobayashi
Lead Doe / AmazonAkino Konno
Bouncing Barbary / AmazonYurino Sugihara
Doe / MelanippeSaya Chinen
Little Luce / AmazonAki Tomita
Maudline / AmazonAzusa Hara
Nurse / SoldierTakai Mizuno
Arcas / PeleusWataru Sakai
Diomedes / Athenian SoldierKenta Chatani
Captain / JordanKenichiro Teramoto
Admetus / HunterKazuki Toma
Athenian Soldier / Forest DancerKengo Nishioka
Sychaeus / One of the Three KingsHayato Neriko
One of the Three Kings / HunterShota Hatakeyama
Sennois / EvanderYoshihisa 'Guppi' Higuchi
Pan / Athenian SoldierToshiki Hirose
Stag / One of the three Three KingsDaichi Matsuno
Forest Musicians
Timothy, playing Wadaiko (Japanese drum)Koki Miura
Wadaiko (Japanese drum)Tetsuro Naito
Shinobue / Yokobue (Japanese flute)Tomoko Takeda
Tsugaru-jamisen (Shamisen)Hibiki Orie


Oboe伊藤量子 / 神農広樹
Horn桝谷 信 / 田島花林
Drums舟 寧臣 / 今村健太郎
Guitar吉岡 昇
Keyboard川田 泉 / 河邉 大
1st Violin相磯優子 / 祝嶺美保
2nd Violin田島朗子 / 佐藤桃子
Viola増田直子 / 河合晃太
Cello森田香織 / 三枝慎子
TOHO Music森岡孝夫 / 千葉 健
DAT Music松倉信弥 / 関 香織