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45 - From the beginnings of kabuki to the playwrights Nanboku and Mokuami

from Part IV - The Edo period (1600–1867)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 January 2016

Haruo Shirane
Affiliation:
Columbia University, New York
Tomi Suzuki
Affiliation:
Columbia University, New York
David Lurie
Affiliation:
Columbia University, New York
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Summary

Kabuki developed along a very different trajectory in Edo, the administrative seat of the shogunate, and accounts of kabuki published there tried to present a distinctly local theatrical history. Tsuruya Nanboku IV, famous Edo playwright, produced hits during the financially unstable period when the traditions of Edo kabuki were starting to collapse. His humorous plays featured lower-class characters, murder, and ghosts, and incorporated special effects and motifs from side shows. Writers who came after Nanboku such as Segawa Joko III and Kawatake Mokuami moved away from the conventional sekai, drawing heavily on social drama taken from oral-storytelling. Narratives of nineteenth-century kabuki tend to center on Edo because, during the Meiji period what had existed as a local form came to be reinvented as a national theatrical tradition. The history of kabuki has been shaped by the modern canonization of Nanboku and Kawatake Mokuami, whose celebrity gives the impression that the nineteenth century was a highpoint of early modern kabuki.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2015

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