Criticism: The Development Of Kabuki - Essay

A. C. Scott (essay date 1955)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Scott, A. C. “Plays and Playwrights.” In The Kabuki Theatre of Japan, pp. 199-235. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1955.

[In the following excerpt, Scott explains that in the early years of Kabuki's development, the play and playwright did not assume as central role as they have always done in Western theater—since dialogue was only as important as movement, gesture, music, and dance—and points out that the craft of writing for the theatre eventually developed into a profession of which there were several notable Kabuki practitioners who produced enduring works, including the hugely popular Chūshingura.]

The Kabuki play has always laid great emphasis...

(The entire section is 11691 words.)

C. Andrew Gerstle (essay date 1987)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Gerstle, C. Andrew. “Flowers of Edo: Eighteenth-Century Kabuki and Its Patrons.” Asian Theatre Journal 4, No. 1 (Spring, 1987): 52-75.

[In the following essay, Gerstle argues that the Kabuki theater that developed in Edo in the eighteenth century is strikingly different from that seen in Kyoto or Osaka during the same period, and maintains that Edo Kabuki's amoral, outlandish image was fed by the Confucian government's stifling conservatism as well as the theater audience's desire and fascination for Kabuki's defiance of authority.]

At Tokyo's National Theatre, kabuki plays conceived and premiered during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries...

(The entire section is 7142 words.)

Laurence Kominz (essay date 1988)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Kominz, Laurence. “Origins of Kabuki Acting in Medieval Japanese Drama.” Asian Theatre Journal 5, No. 2 (Fall, 1988): 132-45.

[In the following essay, Kominz maintains that the impulse toward Kabuki drama began as early as the 1400s, and that Kabuki elements such as the role types aragoto (violent superhero) and wagoto (sensitive lover) are anticipated in such medieval plays as Soga Slices the Chest and Wada's Saké Party.]

Much of the appeal of Japan's kabuki theatre lies in its vivid contrasts and startling juxtapositions: the stylized sets, like woodblock prints, peopled by human actors who often move like puppets; the...

(The entire section is 5590 words.)