The Origins of Kabuki Essays

The origins of Kabuki can be traced back to 1603 when Okuni Izumo, a Shinto priestess, was performing along the Kamo River in Kyoto (Edwin Wilson and Alvin Goldfarb). Izumo performances were quite popular and she was able to form an all female troupe. Unfortunately, these all female troupes were met with disapproval from government officials and were forced to disband.Since the beginning of Kabuki, the only major changes that Kabuki has faced has been the changes in which gender would be allowed to perform. Originally when Kabuki was founded, by Okuni, the performers were all female. The women of Kabuki troupes performed both male and female parts. Women Kabuki performers did not just sell their performances, but their bodies as well (“Kabuki”). If an audience member wanted, and if they had enough money, they could procure sexual services from the performers. Eventually, fights broke out, about the sexual aspects that these performers provided. In order to stop these fights the government decided to act. In 1629, female performances of Kabuki were banned (Wilson and Goldfarb 257). Young boys then became the stars of Kabuki. Their Kabuki performances followed the same guild lines that female performers faced: they played both gender role, their makeup and costumes were the same, they danced and they could be brought for sexual services as well. Men who came to see these performances did not shy away from engaging in homosexual acts with these boys (“Portrait of an Onnagata”). Soon thought, conflicts arose when quarrels broke out among the men who wished to gain sexual services from these boys. Authorities intervened and in 1652 boys’ Kabuki was forbidden (Faith Bach). After these reforms, older men came into playing the parts of…

…anese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Kabuki.” N.p., n.d. Web. 8 May 2014.

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“Kabuki.” BEGIN Japanology. Writ. Adam Fulford and Kazutada Komine. Dir. Mamoru Abe. Kei Ichinoseki. NHK World. 5 April 2012. YouTube. Web. 9 May 2014.”Portrait of an Onnagata.” Dir. Tineke Hulsbergen. Films Media Group. 1990. Films On Demand. Web. 9 May 2014.Tran, Lan. “Art, Drama/Performance.”Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender: Culture Society History. Ed. Fedwa Malti-Douglas. Vol. 1. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 92-96. Global Issues In Context. Web. 9 May 2014.Royce, Anya. “Dance.” Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender: Culture Society History. Ed. Fedwa Malti-Douglas. Vol. 2. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 365-369. Global Issues In Context. Web. 9 May 2014.Wilson, Edwin, and Alvin, Goldfarb. Theater The Lively Art. 8th ed. New York: Mc Graw Hill, 2012. Print


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