Movement in Japanese Bunraku and Kabuki Theatrex

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10 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 5 μήνες)

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Kaitlyn Wren

THEA4400

Richmond


Objective: to take a comparative look at how
the movement styles of the
Bunraku

and
Kabuki theatres were mutually influenced
through their competitive, interdependent
historical development.



The intricacy of the relationship between
these two art forms can be seen in the
degree of the stylization of movement.


This form of puppet theatre was originally known
as
Ningyo
-
shibai
,
or “doll
-
theatre”


It is known today as
Bunraku

because of the
revival of the doll
-
theatre from the
Bunraku
-
za

of Kyoto


It is a product of collaboration of three aspects:


1
-

joruri
: the narration of the text in a stylized form
of chanting


2
-

the accompanying musical styles of the twang of
the samisen


3
-
ningyōtsukai: the skillful life
-
long training of puppet
manipulation


More chanter
-
centered: the audience goes to the
theatre to mainly hear the
tayū

(chanters)
perform their skillful portrayal of the texts



Literal meaning “off beat”


This term encompasses the concepts of (“ka”) song,
(“
bu
”) dance, and (“
ki
”) skill


This theatrical art form developed out of the lower
class. There is a general motif of erotic love and its
history is generally acknowledged with prostitution


It is known for being grandiose in nature. Large scale:


stylized makeup, outlandish costuming, and extravagant
movement, colorful music, sculpture
-
like poses, and
rigidly choreographed fighting


much of kabuki was taken from puppet theatre, so the
gestures are much like them, just on a larger scale


Actor
-
centric: the audience generally flock to see the
expertise and precision of the actor


As the histories of these two art forms show,
they were in constant competition for favor
among the Japanese audience.



This battle naturally paved the way for an
overlap of textual content, musical chanting
style, and movement technique.


The
Keicho

Era (1596
-
1614): The History of
Kabuki can be attributed to a woman, O
Kuni
, a
ceremonial dancer from the great
Izumo

Shrine.
About the eighth year O
Kuni

performed her
historical dance on a river bed that lead to the
ignition of popularity for the
artfrom

and to her
creating the first school of Kabuki.


At this time the performers were mostly women,


1629
-

The
Shogunate

bans Women from the stage
and
Wakashu

(young Men’s Kabuki) takes
precedence.


1652
-

Wakashu

suppressed by
Shogunate

and
Kabuki was forced to change from its primarily
erotic draw


In this same year the inclusion of the rhythmic
movement from the influence of doll theatre began
to trickle onto the Kabuki stage



Genroku

Era (1688
-
1703): Golden Era of
Japanese Culture


Older men took on all of the roles (male and
female) to decrease eroticism of the
performances


The distinct form of Kabuki began to develop and
it started to become a highly respected art form


Development of schools of Kabuki and time of
Danjuro

I




Similar to Kabuki, the roots of the Doll
-
theatre were
known as something low and vulgar (Kincaid)


The rise of puppet theatre as its known today came out of
the eventual fusion of the nomadic puppeteer with the
music of the samisen in the late 16
th

century that became
known as the popular music
-
ballad drama known as
Joruri

(Kincaid)


Edo
-
period (1603
-
1868): Doll theatre existed prior to the
formation of the Kabuki, but it was not until the early
years of the
Kanei

Era (1624
-
43) that puppets had a
permanent stage.


1684: Development of the theatre
Takemoto

za

in Osaka by
Takemoto

Gidayu

in collaboration with Japan’s most
famous playwright
Chikamatsu

Monzaemon



For the next 80 years, fame of puppet theatre completely
eclipsed that of Kabuki


During these 80 years, due to the overwhelm
of
Bunraku

influence, Kabuki developed
similar technique of production


actors emulated movements and gestures of the
dolls


Thematic substance for the plays began to
overlap


The overall concept of realism previously
attributed to Kabuki now merged with the
stylization of the puppet theatre in production
and movement


“How the doll
-
actors took their rise, how for
them the best theatre talent of the land was
concentrated, and how these gorgeously
costumed puppets of wood, animated by
pulleys and strings, influenced the actors of
flesh and blood, forms a unique chapter in
the history of the Japanese theatre.”
(Kincaid p. 144)


“The movements of the dolls were so
spirited, the doll
-
handlers so creative in the
variety of gestures that they invented to
express a whole world, gay and grave, that
the actors came at last to acknowledge the
puppets as a source of inspiration.” (Kincaid
149)


The
Yedo

actors of Kabuki had to venture
into the Kyoto and Osaka theatre in order to
understand how to play the characters of the
en vogue doll theatre plays.


An example of the extreme interdependence of the
two forms can be illustrated by the story of the
famous puppeteer and puppet costumer
Bunsaburo
.


It is said that one evening in the puppet theatre,
when the audience was scattered with Kabuki artists,
one of the puppets was one the verge of falling over
in mid performance.
Bunsaburo

quickly came to its
rescue and as he did so, the puppet moved in an
awkward fashion that was different than that of
regulatory movement and the audience broke into
laughter. From then on, this became the norm for
this particular puppet production. Very soon after,
down the street in the Kabuki theatre, the actors
were seen portraying the same characters, in the
same costumes, imitating this same awkward falling
style.


In 1757, prior to the first year of
Horeki
, the doll
theatre was at its height. However, after this, it
began its decline.


Bunraku

gradually diminished by the end of
1770s with the death of some of the best
narrators, playwrights and puppeteers.


Although
Bunraku

flourished during the Meiji
period (1868
-
1912), it experienced difficulties in
the early part of the twentieth century and
during the war years, and it lost public interest.
However,
Bunraku

revived remarkably over
recent decades with a growing younger
audience.
Bunraku

is once again a popular form
of entertainment in Japan and performs to sold
-
out crowds. (4)


“The principle of movement in Kabuki is that if at any
moment it were photographed, the result would be a
charming and pleasing picture.” (5 p.191)


Kabuki moves from pose to pose, or from “tension to
tension” through the fluidity of time.


Aside from the dance element which is present in
virtually all of Kabuki, there are three prime elements
of movement that make the spectacle of Kabuki more
effective and to increase its variety of action
-
possibilities. These are:


pantomime


human imitation of the puppets


and the pose. (5)


Pantomime


It is part of the straight drama of Kabuki


Is known as “dumb show” in that is makes little since
aside from the addition of beauty and spectacle


At the end of the pantomime sequence the starring
male role makes his grand exit called
roppo

or (“six
directions” movement by
Danjuro

I) as he makes his
exit down the
hanamichi

to the back of the theatre.
(5 p.186)


On a comparative note: This is something that can
obviously not be replicated in
Bunraku

because it would
destroy the spectacle.


The fantastical gestures of pantomime are known as
“living pictures.” The overall effect heightens the
decorous fashion of the Kabuki theatre and of Asian
artistic appreciation in whole.


Imitation of Puppets


“The large proportion alone of plays of basic action of the
actors must be influenced by puppet styles of movement.”
(5 p. 190)



In these puppet action plays, there is always a narration
and music (similar to the
Bunraku
) that frees the actor to
move and take on the puppet
-
like motion.


There is often the motif of flash back or
monogatari

(“Narration”) where the actor announces “I will now
tell you a story” that allows the audience to know that
a narration is to begin. The actor then uses puppet
-
like gestures and poses to tell the story. (190)


Toyata

Monogatari
-

as he begins to tell his story, all
semblance of human action dissolves into the irregular and
jerky movements of a puppet.


“to accentuate the effect, another actor, dressed in black
like an old fashioned puppeteer, appears on the stage and
goes through the simulated motions of
manipulatipulating

the human “puppet”’. (5 p.190)



Kabuki dance also does not fall under our idea of
constant fluidity. Instead, it is constantly moving
from tableau to tableau.



The basis of all Kabuki is dance, and an actor
must undergo extensive training in this area in
order to rise in the strict hierarchical system,
and
shosagoto

are generally made up of a
combination of
mai
, a circling movement with
the heels kept close to the floor,
odori
, folk
-
influenced gestures and turns, and
furi
, use of
mime often involving props such as fans.

kabuki dance



buyo

-

has some elements
taken from both Noh and
Bunraku

forms


Kabuki dance cannot be understood within
the rigid framework of our western thinking.


Our idea of dance typically involves the
concept of purely representational
movement, however, Kabuki dance lies
somewhere along the spectrum of
representational movement and true realism


The different genres of Kabuki literature
clearly call for different forms of movement.



Jidaimono
: history plays


Usually set in historical periods like the
Heian

Period(794
-
1185) or the Kamakura
Perio

(1185
-
1336)


Often depict times of civil war between Heike
and
Genji

clans of the late 12
th

century


The use of the historical distance allowed the
Kabuki theatre to avoid censorship by the
Shogunate

through depicting war heroes,
samurai, lords, princesses, and empresses


Sewamono


These were the plays of the common people


Came out of the period surrounding 1679 when
Chikamatsu

Monzaemon

was at his writing prime. He
wrote for both the Kabuki and puppet theatre.


This genre depicts low level characters of pre
-
modern Japanese society such as prostitutes,
shopkeepers, firemen, and the like


The plays generally involve conflict derived from
either
giri

(duty vs. family) or
ninjo

(human
emotions).


The Love Suicides at
Sonezaki

falls under this
category


The styles of the plays call for two main
kata

or “forms” of movement that are used to
play character types in Kabuki. They are:


aragoto
, or rough stuff, and


wagoto
, soft stuff.



Aragoto

characters


Typically they are the superhero and warrior
types seen in
jidaimono


They are recognized by their distinctive
kumadori

make
-
up, painted in stripes of red,
black and blue on the face, arms and legs.


The
aragoto

actors perform with powerful exaggerated
voices that resemble bellowing and braying their often
nonsensical lines.


Their wigs and costumes are just as
overscaled
, and
include padding in order to enlarge the actor’s
physical presence.


Ichikawa
Danjuro

I (1660
-
1704) was the first known
aragoto

actor


An excerpt from the
Yoshitsune

Senbon

Zakura
. It was originally
written for the puppet theatre in 1747 and premiered in the
Kabuki theatre the following year. It is an example of the
jidaimono

genre on of the stylized choreography that
accompanies the fight scenes.


Along with the concept that Kabuki is actor
-
centric, the actors
were the primary directors and choreographers.


This video also shows the difference between Kabuki and
Bunraku

performance scale. From this audience member’s viewpoint, they
would not be able to read this amount of detail into a
Bunraku

performance that can be seen in this grandiose Kabuki
performance .


Wagato

characters are the foil of the
aragoto

characters.


They are often played by
onnogata

(“women
roles”)


They are sensitive and romantic and the
movement is vastly more understated than
that of the
aragoto
.


This type of movement exemplifies emotion


Sakata
Tojuro

I (1647
-
1709) is credited with
the development of this
kata



This is an example of the
wagato
, “soft stuff”
acting style that is found in the
sewamono

genre. This is a clear depiction of the

onnogata
” (woman role)


Just as kabuki took from the doll theatre
form, we can conversely see how the doll
theatre also took on the gestures and style of
living actors, modeling their specialties,
young women, heroes, heroes and villains.


This video provides the doll theatre’s take on
femininity as a contrast to that of the
previous Kabuki video. It also provides a
beautiful example of the puppet depiction of
grief.


The concept of stillness is incredibly powerful in
the theatre, especially of these two forms where
the stylized movement is so visually alluring.


The contrast of stillness in
Bunraku

and Kabuki is
striking.
Kott

states that the most difficult task
for actors is to embody stillness and silence on
stage. Conversely, when the puppets are left
alone by their puppeteers, they are frozen in
immobility. This simple concept allows the effect
of sorrow and woe to be isolated within the
moment and within the seeming lifeless body of
the puppet corpse.


“One of the puppets' most profound effects
is their posture at rest. When communication
along a marionette's strings is halted, the
figure simply goes limp. It appears to have
fallen into a primeval quiet. Since the
Bunraku

doll's connection to its handlers
remains uninterrupted, the puppet never
reaches that point. A human hand and mind
are actively involved in the stillness, thus it
is calculated, more akin to a held breath.
This elegant maneuver in particular conveys
a haunting implication of
Bunraku
: Someone,
or something, is always watching.” (Jacobs)



The use of stillness in the Kabuki theatre is likewise effective.


For example, the
aragato

performance includes the renowned
mie
. The
mie

is the highly stylized pose that absorbs the central
meaning of the particular character in the height of emotion.



The phrase that accompanies this action is
mie

o
kiru
, or to "cut
a
mie
."


The moment is intensely built up. Wooden clappers are beaten
and the actor performs grandiose movement, a dramatic head
roll, then they are entirely frozen in a statuesque pose with one
or both eyes crossed. Often it's preceded by a head roll. The idea
is to capture the highest moments of tension into one physical
gesture and to more or less hold the actor and the audience in a
breathless trance. After a few seconds, the actor relaxes and the
play continues. A
mie

can be cut in various specified positions,
depending on the character and the moment. When exiting, an
aragoto

character may perform a
roppo

exit, which combines
several of these poses in rapid succession, before leaving the
stage.


The
mie

is not a realistic pose, but rather it is “a static attitude
preceeded

by increasingly rhythmic movement which reaches an
equilibrium in this pose…its essential quality is that of balanced,
sculptural tension.”


Depiction of
mie

(in real time the actors are just about
this still. When watching it on video I though my computer
froze when the actor cuts a
mie
. But it is just an example
of the utter skill in discipline and sheer control of every
fiber of one’s being into the frozen display of character.)

Omozukai
-
head and
left arm operator

Hidarizukai
-

assistant who
manipulates right
arm

Ashizukai
-

third handler who operates
feet


Yet another illustration of the triune puppet
manipulation system.


A depiction of the mechanics of puppet facial
expression.


Though much of the spoken information is
redundant with the rest of this presentation, this
video provides an excellent view of the
mechanics of puppetry in creation and action.





“Those stately moves, those yowling falsetto voices, those delectably
coloured

sets of wisteria
-
clad teahouses or cedar
-
strewn mountains,
above splendid origami outfits and hairdos
-

they turn the human being
into an esoteric puppet on divine strings.”
Ismene

Brown


“The piece depicts a love affair between the 19 year old
courtesan
Ohatsu

and the 25 year old clerk
Tokubei
. They commit
suicide to be united in death. It's a love story, emblematic of
Kamigata

kabuki, which emphasizes realism. The affair ending in
shinju

(double suicide) is a romantic ideal in Japan.”















For your entertainment pleasure, I found an additional puppet
video. Though this is not the typical manner in which
Bunraku

is
performed, I thought it was an absolutely exquisite display of
bringing a puppet to life.