Kabuki Theater Art

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Kabuki is a traditional theater art of Japan. It was started by Lzumo no Okuni. This new dance style inspired many other troupes after the appreciation of Okuni’s performance in the royal court of Shogunate. Initially it was an all women’s performance but when those women turned to prostitution men, because of the ban levied on them, substituted them. But the handsome youth too caught the fancy of salacious audience and were made to enter prostitution. Then finally it was declared that matured men would only be the part of kabuki to maintain the dignity of the society.

Hanamichi or flower path is the walkway, which is used to for entering and exiting for the performers, and it extends into the spectator’s area. Things like trap doors and rotating steps were added way back in the eighteenth century. The rotating stage was invented in the Kyoho period and was called as Mawari-butai. The technique involved a separate circular stage placed on wheel, in center of the original stage. If the circular stage was rotated in full light, it was known as Akaten or lighted revolve and if the lights of stage were dimmed when the platform is revolved, which was known as Kuraten or darken revolve.  The trap doors were known as Seri, which were used to either lower or raise an actor on to stage. This was used to achieve the effect of raising the whole scene on to the stage or declining the whole scene from the stage.

The spectators were made to believe that the actor is flying by attaching wires to the costumes of the actor. This technique was known as Chunori. This technique was made in the nineteenth century. Tricks like this and many other tricks are known as Keren, meaning playing to the gallery. They are used to refer to the sudden appearance and disappearance of the performers. Hiki Dagu was mobile stage place on wagons. They were used to change the scene in between when the actors were still performing on stage and when the curtains weren’t drawn. This technique was taken further and was used on actors. The actors used to perform on wheeled platform and at the end of the performance some men used to push that platform away from the eyes of the spectators. These men were also used to remove or add a scene or prop and were known as Kuroko. To decrease their visibility to the audience they were made to dress in black. Modern theaters have become more and more better when compared to the traditional theaters.

In this modern age Kabuki is still famous and has gained immense traditional importance. A statue of Okuni was erected in 2003 in Pontocho district. There are many renowned Kabuki theaters in the cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.  The famous performers of Kabuki are given chance to act in movies and television series. Bando Tamasaburo was a very famous kabuki performer as well as an actor who performed in many films especially in the female character or Annagata.  Females are also a part of the performance now instead of only men who used to perform the Annagata roles. In fact after the World War II all female groups were also formed which were known as Ichikawa Kabuki-za. Many kabuki troupes perform on international level also like America and Europe. International plays have been rewritten for kabuki performances. Kabuki is also referred to as Anime. In 2005, UNESCO declared kabuki as “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”.

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