Shozo Sato was Artist in Residence at Krannert Center from its opening in 1969 until his retirement in 1992. During his first decade at Krannert Center, he presented traditional Kabuki plays and dances, which he translated into English, designed, and directed. Beginning with Kabuki Macbeth in 1978, he turned to adaptations of western classics with Kabuki conventions. His highly successful productions in this style include Kabuki Medea, Kabuki Faust, Kabuki Othello, and Achilles: A Kabuki Play. These productions, which Mr. Soto conceived, designed, and directed, earned international acclaim and have been presented by professional companies around the world. In February 1991, he returned to his native Japan with Illinois Kabuki Theatre’s production of Achilles: A Kabuki Play, the first Kabuki production by a major American company to be performed in Japan.
Since retiring from the University of Illinois, Shozo Sato has continued to be involved in cross-cultural activities, both nationally and internationally. Iago’s Plot was developed during a semester-long residency at Towson State University in Maryland and has been staged in Baltimore; Cairo, Egypt; and Weimar, Germany. Mr. Sato also directed Kabuki Medea in Chicago in 1994 and in Durban, South Africa, in 1993.
Shozo Sato has won numerous honors, including Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson, San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle, Hollywood Drama Guild, South Africa’s Vita, and Baltimore Sun awards for directing and design. Iago’s Plot won the Critic’s Choice for Best Director at the Cairo International Experimental Theatre Festival. In 1993 he was awarded the Sidney R. Yates Arts Advocacy Award by the Illinois Arts Alliance Foundation, and in 1992 the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs awarded him the Certificate of Commendation for his promotion of Japanese culture throughout the world. In May of 2004, he received The Order of the Sacred Treasure with Rosette from the Emperor of Japan.
Shozo Sato received his dramatic training at the Toho Academy of Performing Arts in Tokyo and as a special student of the late Kabuki actor Nakamura, Kanzaburo XVII, a National Treasure of Japan. In 1985 he was honored as a Kabuki artist by being officially adopted into the Kabuki family of Nakamura and given the name Nakamura, Kanzo IV. He is also a master of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, Ikebana (flower arrangement), and Sumi-e (back ink painting). Mr. Sato was the founding director of Japan House, a Japanese cultural center serving the University of Illinois and surrounding communities.