By Loren Edelson (auth.)
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Extra info for Danjūrō’s Girls: Women on the Kabuki Stage
Moreover, mastery of the puppets’ predefined movements and corporeal patterns (kata) is thought to be the best training for performers, as the same forms can be applied to dozens of plays. Even though the plot and dialogue change from play to play, the exterior movements remain more or less the same, enabling actors in rotating repertory to remember their parts, especially when they are playing the same stock character over and over. 5 According to local lore, the city was a destination for pilgrims who paid their respects to the gods at the Inari Shrine during the day and at night availed themselves of the many excellent restaurants and teahouses.
Precisely how the drama would be reformed was left vague, although it soon became clear that the changes in question reflected western theatre conventions with which several members had become familiar on trips to Europe and the United States. The society also hoped to make kabuki presentable to the emperor, a goal it realized in April 1887, two years before it disbanded. ” The society, therefore, believed that the addition of actresses would enable kabuki— long considered a déclassé albeit popular entertainment—to become a respectable drama on a par with western theatre.
She believed that shinpa’s relative emphasis on realism, plot, and dialogue would help her to perform katsureki-type plays, which, as we have seen, were the attempts by Danjūrō to perform a more historically correct kabuki. From Kumehachi’s perspective, both genres were committed to visual verisimilitude, textual innovation, and a more restrained acting style. It was also an excellent opportunity to experience something new and different. 61 At the same time, she was not thoroughly enamored with shinpa.