JAPN 261: Japanese Theater
This course introduces students to a host of performance arts in Japan from ancient Noh plays to the street-theater of cos-play (costume play). In the first half of the class, our readings will concentrate mainly on translations of plays legendary in Japan that you can still see performed by actors schooled in the Noh, Kyōgen, and Kabuki traditions and by Bunraku puppets. In the second half of the class, we turn from analyzing plays to reading about traditions developed in the 20th century where performance trumps script.Focusing on representations of the human body further unifies our exploration of these many theatrical forms. As we move from ancient times to the present, we learn new ways of conceptualizing the stage, performer, audience, and the goals of performance itself. We see how broad shifts in politics, religion, and technology constantly reshape theater for new generations. We also go behind the scenes to investigate performers’ training, the construction of stages and costumes, systems of patronage from the courtly to fan groups, and theater as a for-profit business and a state-subsidized institution. We analyze the intriguing turn “Japanese Theater” takes in the late 19th and 20th centuries when it is employed to display national identity at home and abroad. VP, BN, CI.