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My Name Is Bond

23rd August 2022

A new stage play based on 'Casino Royale' will open in Japan next year

MI6 logo By MI6 Staff
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James Bond has been prolific across most media formats, including film, television, books, games, and comics, but has yet to conquer the theatre. That is unlikely to change, but the first ever stage production based on a James Bond novel could be opening next year.

An all-female revue in Japan has announced a stage production titled 'Casino Royale - My Name Is Bond' and it is based around the events of the titular novel by Ian Fleming. To be hosted at the Takarazuka Grand Theater in March and April 2023 before moving on to Tokyo in May and June, it will be performed by the Takarazuka Revue, an all-female theater troupe established in 1913.  It will be written and directed by Shuichiro Koike and star Suzuho Makaze as James Bond (She will be playing the character of James Bond as a man. All parts in Takarazuka are filled by women regardless of the sex of the character. It’s the opposite of Kabuki where all parts are played by men.).

Production Synopsis (Translated)
It was 1968, the world It was during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. In Paris, an anti-establishment demonstration called the "May Revolution" occurred mainly among students and workers. In the secret intelligence department MI6, a secret agent James Bond with the codename "007" is ordered to defeat a Soviet spy called Le Chiffre. During the May Revolution, Le Chiffre was forced into a corner by misappropriating the funds sent to the Red Army Alliance from the Soviet organization, so he was aiming for a quick fortune at the casino. Bond's mission is to use his gambling skills to defeat him and cut off his source of funding, and to capture him alive and force him to leak information

Above: Suzuho Makaze

Bond masquerades as a Jamaican millionaire and enters the 'Casino Royale' in a hotel in Royale-les-Eaux on the French Atlantic Coast. At that time, the bereaved families of the Romanov family gathered at the hotel and were fighting over the successor to the next patriarch. One of the descendants, Delphine, a graduate student at the Sorbonne University, was the lover of extremist student Michel who fled to the Red Army Alliance. Le Chiffre, who lost to Bond at gambling, targets Delphine's inherited property, and Bond begins a relationship with Delphine. Set in a splendid casino, with secret conspiracies and strategies and the addition of the CIA, French intelligence agents, and Soviet operatives, crises strike one after another in Bond's path... The cool and solid Suzuho Shinkaze plays an active role as James Bond in a gorgeous and romantic drama unique to the Takarazuka Revue. Please look forward to this musical blockbuster.

Time-shifting the events of the novel to real-world events in 1968 and including the Romanov family is an interesting direction for an adaptation of 'Casino Royale.' Of course, this is an unlicenced adaptation of the literary property, but it does not need to be. Although Japan signed up to the TPP agreement in 2018 that honours copyright for '70 years from the death of the author,' Ian Fleming's work went into the public domain in Japan in 2015 as their original rule was 50 years. Works that went into the public domain prior to Japan being a signatory of the TPP in 2018 were not grandfathered in. The same 50-year rule applies in Canada, too, where Fleming's books and the literary character of James Bond are already in the public domain. 

This is not the first time that a stage adaptation of 'Casino Royale' has been attempted. Back in 1985, Raymond Benson was commissioned by the Ian Fleming estate (who at the time owned the stage rights to that book) to adapt it to a stage play. A read-through was held in New York in 1986 but the project did not progress any further.  More recently, in 2015, Merry Saltzman, the first and lesser known of three children of the original Bond co-producer Harry Saltzman, announced news that she would be creating a James Bond musical with aims for a run in either Las Vegas or on Broadway. A slew of legal statements followed and the project quickly fizzled out.

Thanks to M from jamesbond007news.com for the clarification on Japan's copyright status.

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