Students will learn about the historical and cultural contexts, and social and literary content of plays in Japan's major classical theatrical genres: noh, kyogen, bunraku, and kabuki. We will analyze the formal structures of play-craftinng, and modes of presentation on-stage. To this end, students will read plays, analyses of plays, and theater history. Two-thirds of class time is spent in lecture and discussion, 1/3 in viewing videos of theatrical productions. Discussions will focus on topics distributed the previous day. There will be one hands-on performance workshop, focusing on vocal physical presentation of noh, kyogen, and kabuki.
An exploration of the evolution of kabuki from noh and kyogen to its origins as an edgy and stylish dance-drama vaudeville show by women performers, through its development into a complex dramatic genre, culminating with kabuki today, in a time of crisis and change. The course will focus equally on kabuki performance (make-up, costuming, dance & acting conventions--including physical and vocal exercises) and the plays and their social-historical-political contexts. This class is a stand-alone introduction to kabuki, but also serves as a pre-cursor to a course project in Block Five for which we will stage a full kabuki play in English.