Book Announcement: A History of Japanese Theatre

Jonah Salz (ed.), A History of Japanese Theatre, Cambridge University Press, 2016.

From the Cambridge University Press official webpage for the book:


Japan boasts one of the world’s oldest, most vibrant and most influential performance traditions. This accessible and complete history provides a comprehensive overview of Japanese theatre and its continuing global influence. Written by eminent international scholars, it spans the full range of dance-theatre genres over the past fifteen hundred years, including noh theatre, bunraku puppet theatre, kabuki theatre, shingeki modern theatre, rakugo storytelling, vanguard butoh dance and media experimentation. The first part addresses traditional genres, their historical trajectories and performance conventions. Part II covers the spectrum of new genres since Meiji (1868–), and Parts III to VI provide discussions of playwriting, architecture, Shakespeare, and interculturalism, situating Japanese elements within their global theatrical context. Beautifully illustrated with photographs and prints, this history features interviews with key modern directors, an overview of historical scholarship in English and Japanese, and a timeline. A further reading list covers a range of multimedia resources to encourage further explorations.

*Contains chapters on major genres, as well as shorter spotlight and focus boxes covering less well-known genres and individuals
*Contributions from Japanese scholars, many translated into English for the first time, offer new contextual insights
*Includes discussions of dance, folk, and popular culture genres often ignored in Western definitions of theatre
*Chapters on shamisen, costumes, architecture, and national theatres provide a cultural and contextual grounding for theatrical genres in affiliated arts and institutions


Foreword James R. Brandon
Timeline Rachel Payne
Editor’s introduction Jonah Salz

Part I. Traditional Theatres:
Preface to Part I Laurence Kominz
1. Ancient and early medieval performing arts Terauchi Naoko
Interlude: katari narrative traditions: from storytelling to theatre Alison Tokita
2. Noh and Muromachi culture Shinko Kagaya and Miura Hiroko
Interlude: noh and kyogen costumes and masks Monica Bethe
3. Kyogen: classical comedy Jonah Salz
Interlude: iemoto: the family head system Eric C. Rath
4. Kabuki: superheroes and femmes fatales Julie Iezzi
Interlude: nihonbuyô: classical dance Paul Griffith and Okada Mariko
Interlude: Okinawan theatre: boundary of Japanese theatre Suzuki Masae
5. Bunraku: puppet theatre Goto Shizuo
Interlude: misemono and rakugo: sideshows and storytelling Matthew Shores
Interlude: kamigata geinō: Kyoto-Osaka style Gondo Yoshikazu
Interlude: traditional theatre tomorrow: interview with Takemoto Mikio Shinko Kagaya

Part II. Modern Theatres:
Preface to Part II Brian Powell
6. Birth of modern theatre: Shimpa and shingeki Brian Powell
Interlude: new comedy, Asakusa opera, OSK musicals Nakano Masaaki
Interlude: Takarazuka: all-girls’ revue and musicals Yamanashi Makiko
7. Rise of shingeki: western-style theatre Guohe Zheng
Interlude: manzai and yoshimoto comedy vaudeville Joel Stocker
8. Wartime colonial and traditional theatre Samuel L. Leiter
Interlude: kami-shibai: picture-card storytelling Washitani Hana
9. Maturing shingeki theatre Guohe Zheng
Interlude: post-war musicals and commercial theatre Kevin Wetmore
10. Sixties theatre Kan Takayuki
Interlude: butoh: dance of darkness and light Bruce Baird
11. Contemporary theatre M. Cody Poulton
Interlude: Tokyo: world theatre capital Iwaki Kyoko
Interlude: charting Tokyo theatre today:
24 November 2012 Iwaki Kyoko
Interlude: modern theatre tomorrow: interview with Hirata Oriza Iwaki Kyoko

Part III. Arcs and Patterns:
12. Pre-modern playwriting practices Laurence Kominz
13. Traditional meta-patterns Jonah Salz
14. Modern drama as literature J. Thomas Rimer
15. Modern meta-patterns Mari Boyd
Interlude: Dōjōji: the lady and the bell Laurence Kominz

Part IV. Theatre Architecture:
Preface to Part IV Jonah Salz
16. Pre-modern patterns of spectatorship and space Shimizu Hiroyuki
17. Modernization of theatrical space, 1868–1940 Samuel L. Leiter and Nagai Satoko
18. Post-war theatres: development and diversification Otsuki Atsushi
Interlude: national theatres and funding Barbara E. Thornbury

Part V. Theatre Criticism:
19. Practitioner principles, Zeami to Chikamatsu William Lee
20. Pre-modern criticism, research, and training Nakano Masaaki
21. English language scholarship: a critical overview David Jortner
Interlude: university scholarship and training Nakano Masaaki

Part VI. Intercultural Influences:
22. Seven stages of Shakespeare reception Daniel Gallimore and Minami Ryuta
23. Traditional training internationally Jonah Salz
24. Intercultural theatre: fortuitous encounters Jonah Salz
Interlude: early influence from Europe Yoshihara Yukari
Interlude: interview with Ninagawa Yukio: Asian energy vs. European rationality Mika Eglinton
Epilogue: frozen words and mythology Eugenio Barba.

About Travis

I am a scholar of Japanese & Okinawan history with a particular interest in the history of arts and culture, and inter-Asia interactions, in the early modern period. I have been fortunate to enjoy the opportunity to live in Okinawa for six months in 2016-17, and in mainland Japan on multiple occasions, including from Sept 2019 to now.
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