Acting Like a Woman in Modern Japan: Theater, Gender, and by Ayako Kano (auth.)

By Ayako Kano (auth.)

Weaving jointly cautious readings of performs and stories, memoirs and interviews, biographies and significant essays, performing Like a lady in smooth Japan strains the emergence of the 1st new release of recent actresses in Japan, a country within which male actors had lengthy ruled the general public degree. What emerges is a colourful and complicated photograph of contemporary eastern gender, theater, and nationhood. utilizing the lives and careers of 2 dominant actresses from the Meiji period, Kano unearths the fantasies, fears, and effect that ladies on degree created in Japan because it entered the 20 th century.

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Extra resources for Acting Like a Woman in Modern Japan: Theater, Gender, and Nationalism

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MODERN FORMATIONS OF GENDER AND PERFORMANCE 33 THE MODERN FORMATION OF THEATER: FROM SHIBAI TO ENGEKI In the years between the 1860s and the 1910s, there occurred a shift in the realm of theater as well, a shift that interacted with the formation of "woman" and prepared the way for the emergence of actresses. This shift can be roughly labeled as the shift from "shibai" 62 to "engeki," 63 or from the theater before modernity to the theater of modernity. 64 "Shibai" literally translates as " being on the lawn," referring to the fact that premodern performances often took place on lawns adjacent to temples and shrines.

Nakayama does not even raise the question, much less answer it, and thus the question of sexuality in premodern theater is put safely away into the closet. What is revealed in these arguments for and against actresses? One is the shared assumption that overt sexuality may have been part of the attraction of the premodern theater but that modern theater is, or should be, different. The world of onnagata as one of male prostitution is seen as the world of old theater, set against the modern theater.

Oyii, on the other hand, is symmetrical, at least lexically, with danyii, the male counterpart. Thus it is Kawakami Sadayakko, or alternatively Matsui Sumako, rather than any "female players" or "female actors" before them, who are considered by most theater historians to have been the first generation of actresses. This suggests that the definition of actress involves more than a woman performing. 61 The rise of the actress involves not only a shift in performers' sex from male to female, but also a shift in performance convention itself, as well as a shift in the characteristics of the performed feminine gender.

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