Academic journal article Multicultural Shakespeare

Finding a Style for Presenting Shakespeare on the Japanese Stage

Academic journal article Multicultural Shakespeare

Finding a Style for Presenting Shakespeare on the Japanese Stage

Article excerpt

Multicultural Shakespeare: Translation, Appropriation and Performance vol. 14 (29), 2016; DOI: 10.1515/mstap-2016-0014

Abstract: Japanese productions of Shakespeares plays are almost always discussed with exclusive focus upon their visual, musical and physical aspects without any due considerations to their verbal elements. Yet the translated texts in the vernacular, in which most of Japanese stage performances of Shakespeare are given, have played crucial part in understanding and analysing them as a whole. This paper aims to illuminate the importance of the verbal styles and phraseology of Shakespeares translated texts by analysing Nakayashiki Norihitos all-female productions of Hamlet (2011) and Macbeth (2012) in the historical contexts of Japanese Shakespeare translation.

Keywords: translation, style, Japanese performance, all-female production, Ninagawa Yukio, Nakayashiki Norihito.

the signature of the Thing Shakespeare:to authorize each one of the translations, to make them possible and intelligible without even being reduced to them.

1

Foreign Shakespeare or Shakespeare without English has almost always been discussed as (or expected to be) something to be visually appreciated and not to be heard, because they are presented in foreign languages. This attitude towards Foreign Shakespeares automatically not only exempts scholars from discussing the translated text for performance but also allows them to concentrate upon the visual and musical aspects of the performance. Although foreign-language productions are generally admitted to have a more direct access to the power of the plays and hence have an advantage of great significance in the theatre, it does not necessarily mean that they are especially

Tokyo University of Economics.

Ryuta Minami

Finding a Style for Presenting Shakespeare on the Japanese Stage

30

Ryuta Minami

noticeable in the visual aspects of productions or that they have explored scenographic and physical modes. This attitude naturally eliminates the possibility of analysing the verbal texts of such Shakespearean performances, thus shifting the foci of the academics away from linguistically intriguing but visually unobtrusive performances.1 This paper aims to focus not upon the visual aspects but upon the verbal styles of two of the recent productions of Shakespeare in Japan, so as to illustrate the importance of verbal aspects of some visually stunning foreign productions of Shakespeare.

This paper is bilateral: the first part provides a brief historical description of shifting yet consistent styles of Japanese translations of Shakespeare so as to show how the images of the Bard as literary giant have been re-confirmed by Shakespeare translations repeatedly revised in Japan. The latter part, on the other hand, illustrates how such an image is being theatrically and stylistically challenged by Nakayashiki Norihitos series of Shakespeare performances called Nyotai [Female-Body] Shakespeare. Nakayashiki, a young playwright-director-actor, has so far produced seven of Shakespeares plays, Hamlet (2011), Macbeth (2012), Julius Caesar (2013), King Lear (2013), Romeo and Juliet (2014), Antony and Cleopatra (2014), Richard the Third (2015) and A Midsummer Nights Dream (2016). This paper primarily explores the first two of his Shakespeare productions, Nosatsu Hamlet [Seductive Hamlet] and Zeccho Macbeth [Macbeth at the Climax], so as to illustrate how he re-styles or even de-styles the conventional ideas of Shakespeare performance.

2

Shakespeare has been regarded as a sign of cultural sophistication since he was first introduced to Japan in the late 19th century. Along with his widely recognized literary values, the language of Shakespeare plays in Japanese translation has also been regarded as, or expected to be, poetic or literary at the least, whether on page or on stage. Whilst many of Japans modern Shakespeare productions in the last few decades boasted their visual and/or physical versatility of their stage productions, they are almost always conservative in terms of their linguistic styles, and thus they, whether explicitly or implicitly, almost always re-affirm his conventional literary status as well as the set images and values of the Bard in Japanese translation. …

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