The Kabuki Theatre

The Kabuki Theatre

The Kabuki Theatre

The Kabuki Theatre

Excerpt

The purpose of this book is to outline the form of the Kabuki theatre, considering it throughout as an expression of Japanese life and culture. The work is intended for the reader with little or no knowledge of this form of theatre; therefore, I have frequently mentioned the Western theatre in order to establish points of reference for understanding the Kabuki. Since a theatre with three centuries of history cannot be described adequately in a single volume, the book does not pretend to be an exhaustive treatment of the subject, but I hope it will serve to arouse interest in a theatre which until about 1900 received relatively little attention either from foreign or Japanese scholars. No major form of world theatre has had as little written about it in Western languages as the Kabuki.

The chief reason for the indifference of the Japanese scholar to the Kabuki was that it was a popular theatre which he thought unworthy of serious consideration. This attitude was adopted by most foreigners in Japan, with the notable exception of such writers as Alexandre Benezet, Maria Piper, Zoë Kincaid, Serge Elisséeff, and, more recently, Faubion Bowers. (A list of the important books on Kabuki in Western languages is given in an appendix.) Japanese acceptance of the Kabuki as a 'respectable' form of theatre underwent some acceleration in the 1930's, when, along with increasing chauvinism, Japan found renewed interest in its native forms of artistic expression. The revival of Japanese interest in the Kabuki today has risen in part out of the nostalgia of a defeated nation for its colorful and romantic past.

The present American interest is partially the result of a sizeable number of Americans having seen, and having been intrigued by . . .

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