In most college theatrical studies, the focus of history remains primarily on Western theatre and familiar cultures. In Eastern studies, the culture is so incredibly different from our Western world that it takes an enormous amount of studying to even begin to comprehend their theatre. Kabuki theatre in Japan is one of the most complex and historically rich theatre types of the Eastern world, with possibly the most controversial and interesting beginning. Upon entering a modern kabuki production, the atmosphere is completely different from anything Western-made, with symbolism prevalent in everything from costumes to makeup to music. The stock characters are a familiar tool, but these characters are nothing like the typical archetypes we see in movies or even play productions. The theatre housing the entire production is beyond anything like the proscenium stages we see today, and even the actors themselves seem larger than life. Though these kabuki productions may seem like high class entertainment for the educated and wealthy, the origins of kabuki theatre were anything but classy. (Lecture notes from Claire McDonald)
Ironically, the first performance of kabuki theatre is accredited to a woman named Okuni, a shrine maiden of the Izumo Shrine. She performed in the summer of 1603 on the dry river beds of ancient Kyoto, which was a popular destination for many other kawara-kojiki, or “river-bank beggars”. (Wood, Bethany and Hamilton, Tim) Okuni was not a beggar, but a priestess. She moved and danced with prayerful and reverent intent, performing religious entertainments for passersby. Though Okuni had travelled to Kyoto to perform and raise donations for the Izumo Shrine, viewers were more intrigued by her physical beauty and gr...
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...or today were it not for the government’s interference with the prostitution issues from the beginning.
"About Kabuki." Web-Japan.org. Web Japan, n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2013.
Grieg, David. "Theatre and Prostitution." Strange Behaviour. Suspect Culture, n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2013.
Lombard, Frank. "Kabuki: A History." TheatreHistory.com. An Outline History of the Japanese Drama, n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2013.
Johnson, Matthew. "Kabuki: A Brief History." Kabuki for Everyone. Fix Inc., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2013.
Ohno, Mary. "Dressing." Kabuki Academy. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2013.
Ohno, Mary M. "Stage Makeup." Kabuki Academy. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2013.
Pappas, Stephanie. "Why Men Buy Sex." LiveScience.com. Tech Media Network, 27 Apr. 2012. Web. 04 Dec. 2013.
Wood, Bethany, and Tim Hamilton. "Kabuki Theatre." UTNarukami. University of Wisconsin, n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2013.
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