A Guide to the Japanese Stage: From Traditional to Cutting Edge
When Western readers think of Japanese theater, the image that most often comes to mind is that of Kabuki, in which male actors play both male and female roles. But there's much more to Japanese theater than that, and this user-friendly guide details the main genres, including Bunraku (in which skilled puppeteers work in harmony with a narrator and a shamisen player), No (a medieval form in which players use music and dance to perform solemn, dignified works), Kyogen (a type of comedy in which actors act in realistic styles and don't wear masks) and Contemporary (which is comparable to what one would see in New York or London, including popular commercial plays and musicals). The authors explain the history of each genre and outline some of the better-known plays. When appropriate, they discuss costumes, masks and props. Cavaye, a concert pianist and author of Kabuki: A Pocket Guide; Griffith, who's currently pursuing a doctorate in Japanese theater history; and Senda, drama professor at Shizuoka University of Art and Culture, have produced a very useful book with lovely color illustrations, perfect for anyone planning a visit to Japan or merely interested in its rich theater history.