The high theatrics form of Japanese dance-drama, or kabuki, dates back to the early 17th Century when small troupes of actors would perform in the environs of temples and shrines on the Kamo River bed in Kyoto. The modern version is as rarefied as the original, so much so that next month’s photographic exhibition, “Kabuki,” will be the first glimpse behind the curtain in its 400 year history. Captured between and during performances at London’s Barbican and Sadler’s Wells theatres, these images offer an intimate look at all the backstage vanities, shot through the gimlet eye of the portrait and fashion photographer, Frederic Aranda. Being granted unprecedented access was an experience that he calls “a grand total provocation of the human mind,” and one will feel as much viewing the images.

The exhibition is on view at The Hospital Club Gallery, from March 9 -16, as the official launch of The Japan Festival 2012 in London. All profits from the limited edition prints will benefit the The Japan Society Tohoku Earthquake Relief Fund,