Item description for A Guide to the Japanese Stage: From Traditional to Cutting Edge (Origami Classroom) by Ronald Cavaye...
Japanese theater is vibrant and exciting, with a wide range of unique genres to be enjoyed by both visitors to Japan and on tour at arts and drama festivals and theaters worldwide. From the stately refinement of No and the colorful spectacle of Kabuki to the avant-garde of the shogekijo and adaptations of Shakespeare or mainstream musicals, the world of the Japanese performing arts is thriving and innovative. A Guide to the Japanese Stage covers all the main genres as performed today, from traditional to cutting edge. A brief history and introduction to the features of each genre is accompanied by recommendations of entertaining plays that are accessible to non-Japanese audiences. Brief synopses are provided for many often-performed plays, and the best known companies, actors, playwrights, and directors are highlighted. The text is illustrated with 32 color pages and over 150 black-and-white photographs, and includes information on theater listings, how to purchase tickets, and which plays are available on DVD in English. This guide is invaluable for anyone keen to experience Japanese theater firsthand, and will provide additional insights for students of Japanese theater and literature.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 7.4" Width: 5.2" Height: 0.87" Weight: 0.57 lbs.
Release Date Feb 4, 2005
Publisher Kodansha International
ISBN 477002987X ISBN13 9784770029874
Reviews - What do customers think about A Guide to the Japanese Stage: From Traditional to Cutting Edge (Origami Classroom)?
An excellent introduction to Japanese theater Jun 19, 2005
Japanese theater is at once compelling and uninviting. Compelling, due to its flamboyant and exotic nature, with the outrageous flair of Kabuki, and the obfuscation and mystery of the masks of Noh and the puppets of Bunraku. Uninviting, because of the ancient and ceremonial language, the centuries old symbolism and buried nature of the storyline. Even to Japanese people, the worlds of Japanese theater can be a complex and incomprehensible realm, requiring significant amounts of study before appreciation. Like Shakespeare, the more familiar one becomes with the meter of the language and the flow of the story, the more one can enjoy the pathos and humor.
"A Guide to the Japanese Stage" is a fine introduction to Japanese theater, both traditional and contemporary. It showcases the four main styles of traditional theater, Kabuki, Noh, Bunraku and Kyogen, then offers a whirlwind tour of all the variety of modern plays and dances. The traditional theaters are covered in-depth, complete with popular play synopsises, styles of make-up, origins, famous actors, clothing and a surprising amount of detail for such a manageable book.
Packed with photographs, the stunning visual element is richly displayed. While definitely not a photo-book, "A Guide to Japanese Stage" illustrates the text with examples of wigs, masks, puppets and all the stunning flair that is a hallmark of Japanese theater. There is a nice collection of Yakusha-e, popular woodblock prints of Kabuki actors that have been sold over the years during performances. Further illustrations detail the male, female and special masks of Noh, the significance of the make-up styles of kumadori Kabuki make-up and the various quick costume changes and special effects of Kabuki.
Unlike most books on Japanese theater, modern theater is given its due as well, covering such things as Super Kabuki, Takarazuka's all-woman musical revue, Western-influenced Shingeki, and the grotesque dance of Butoh. Japan's theatrical tradition certainly doesn't end with the four classic styles, and an amazing breadth of work is on display. This is a rarely-covered area, and very interesting.
Immediately after reading "A Guide to the Japanese Stage," I went to see a Kabuki performance and it was astounding how much more appreciation I had from previous performances I had seen. Able to recognize the "mie" poses, knowing the purpose of the onnagata dance, and able to piece together the plot from the "typical play" synopsises of the book, it was a much more rewarding experience. True appreciation of these theater forms does only come from years of study and exposure, but this book is an excellent place to begin this journey. I look forward to learning more, and to experiencing more Japanese theater armed with my new insight.