Kabuki Criticism: Major Works - Essay

Samuel L. Leiter (essay date 1973)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Leiter, Samuel L. “The Kabuki Juhachiban.Literature East & West XVII, Nos. 2-3-4 (June-December, 1973): 320-34.

[In the following essay, Leiter discusses the different styles used in the collection of plays known as Juhachiban, or “Kabuki Eighteen,” and describes some of the most popular plays from the group, noting the Japanese fondness and reverence for these pieces, partly because of their association with the prestigious actor-family of Ichikawa.]

In the classical Kabuki play, Narukami, first presented in 1684, a young princess, Taema-no-hime, has come to the mountain retreat of the priest, Narukami, to trick him into...

(The entire section is 5771 words.)

James Brandon (essay date 1982)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Brandon, James. “The Theft of Chūshingura: or The Great Kabuki Caper.” In “Chūshingura”: Studies in Kabuki and the Puppet Theater, edited by James R. Brandon, pp, 111-46. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1982.

[In the following excerpt, Brandon examines how the joruri play Chūushingura was stolen by Kabuki actors, which seems difficult to understand considering that the two forms were originally so different, and he argues that the Kabuki performers deliberately set out to transform the play and make it particularly theirs, so that it is now the most beloved Kabuki play.]

It did not take kabuki producers and actors long to...

(The entire section is 15440 words.)

Laurence Kominz (essay date 1983)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Kominz, Laurence. “Ya no Ne: The Genesis of a Kabuki Aragoto Classic.” Monumenta Nipponica 48, No. 4 (Winter, 1983): 387-407.

[In the following excerpt, Kominz discusses the modification of the story Soga Monogatarai to provide the essential premises for the Kabuki play Ya no Ne, and points out that the most important differences in the Kabuki version are its New Year setting, the strength and determination of the central character and vitruosity required of the actor playing him, and the emphasis on visual effects. Ideographic characters in this essay have been silently removed. This essay has been slightly revised by the author for reprint here.]...

(The entire section is 7210 words.)