By: STO Folarin Oyeleye, Foster High School, Troupe 7961
Today we travel overseas, so that we may familiarize ourselves with the elegance behind Japan's rich history in the theatre. There are three forms of traditional Japanese theatre: Kabuki, Noh, and Bunraku. However, today we’re only going to focus on the kabuki. So, I hope you’re comfortable before we jump back into Japan’s Edo period.
During the late 16th century when Japan's warring period had begun to die down, people sought new ways to entertain themselves. This then gave birth to a certain style of dance known as the kabuki- odori. A woman known as Okuni bore costumes and surreal movements from the kabukimono to perform surreal acts for her audience.
This would then lead to the popularization of this theatrical style. As time went on they incorporated instruments such as the shamisen (A three- stringed guitar that gained popularity throughout the region of Tokyo). Even the stages grew to be elaborate, as they’re littered with trap doors and revolving sets to add to the dramatics.
This all adds to the resources they can use to tell their stories. With famous works such as: Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura, Benten Kozo, and Yotsuya Kaidan being notable for how the theatre can focus on historical tales, love stories, or tragedies.
If reading so far has made you interested in visiting one of these plays then some spots of interest to visit would be the kabuki- za theatre in Tokyo or the Kyōto Shijo Minami- za in Kyoto. However, make sure you're ready for the long haul. Although kabuki plays like to focus on the most important parts of a story, these plays usually have about five acts. The Jo is the slow beginning. The Ha is acts 2-4 with a tragedy often occurring in the 3rd act. And the Kyu is the conclusion.
I hope this has been as enlightening for you guy's as it was for me as I got to research this. As always, if you're interested in this topic feel free to do some research of your own and share some fun facts with us in the comments!
Till next time,
Your 2021 Texas State Thespian Officers