Kabuki: The Popular Stage of Japan

Kabuki: The Popular Stage of Japan

Kabuki: The Popular Stage of Japan

Kabuki: The Popular Stage of Japan

Excerpt

Interest in the Theatre, and in the arts and crafts which belong to it, is to-day so lively and so general that it is rather surprising how little has been written about the popular theatre in Japan. There have been several books on the Nō, that unique form of drama which rigidly maintains unaltered all the traditions and fine conventions of the medieval period. But this stationary, aristocratic art has never entered into the life of the Japanese people as has the Kabuki theatre, with which the present volume is concerned. In January of this year was opened the new building of the Kabuki-za, rising from the ashes and ruins of the capital. It is a huge building, with a seating capacity of four thousand. The Japanese cannot live without the theatre: it is in a most real sense part of the national life. Through the theatre the least educated become familiar with the heroic past of their country, its legends and its actual history, so abounding in dramatic episodes "where duty and inclination come nobly to the grapple". It stimulates and sustains their imaginative life; it is a bond of union for all sorts and conditions of men. Such a theatre is worth knowing about; and the art of this theatre is, in all its details, of extraordinary interest. No nation is so thorough as the Japanese in any art they undertake; and the Kabuki theatre exacts the most prolonged and rigorous training from childhood in those who serve it; their art is of the most finished. Technically, also, the devices and conventions of Kabuki scenes--the revolving stage, for instance--offer points of comparison and contrast with the European theatre which we can profitably study, as readers of this book will discover.

The writer of this book has lived for years in Japan . . .

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