The Evolution of Kabuki to the Traditional Performing Arts

The Evolution of Kabuki to the Traditional Performing Arts

April 14, 2021

April 14, 2021 | 5-5:30 p.m. |  Online - Zoom WebinarKabukiza

Speaker: Jihye Kim, Visiting Graduate Student Researcher, Osaka University

In spite of its 400-year history, it has been only a short time since kabuki has come to be considered a traditional performing art. During the early years of the Meiji period, a number of kabuki plays portrayed the blooming of modern civilization and kabuki became a target of reformation in the heat of modernization. In particular, the reform of kabuki play scripts was progressed by intellectuals after the Theater Reform Movement in 1886. However, at the same time, there were initial attempts to canonize kabuki plays by central figures in the kabuki industry such as kabuki actors, Ichikawa Danjūrō IX and Onoe Kikugorō V, from the 1890s to the early 1900s. By tracing the discourse for the reformation of play scripts and the moves for canonization conducted by actors, we can see how kabuki began to be situated as a classic.

Jihye Kim is a PhD student studying Japanese literature at Osaka University. The theme of her doctoral dissertation is a comprehensive analysis of kabuki in the Meiji period, mainly focusing on the nostalgia of Edo culture in kabuki plays, the modernization in compliance with the Theater Reform Movement, and the canonization against the trend of modernization.