Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Japanese Theater

Uirou Uri Kabuki performance by my class at Portland State University
Before majoring in Japanese, I knew absolutely nothing about Japanese theater and honestly wasn't particularly curious about it. For all that I love costumes, I've never been much of a theater geek. I enjoy going to see it occasionally and I love to read playwrights like Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde, but that's the extent of it. But my degree required a number of Japanese cultural studies electives, and in addition to studying things like history and literature I also took several classes on theater. 

I studied at Portland State University in Oregon, which is extremely lucky to have a professor, Larry Kominz, who specializes in theater and is an expert on Kabuki. PSU is one of the only places in the world where you can not only study Japanese theater but also perform it. Even enthusiasts in Japan who pay (probably exorbitant) amounts for private lessons will most likely never set foot on a Kabuki or Noh stage, or ever get to see what goes on behind it.

Since I was lucky enough to study Japanese theater and discover why it's so unique and interesting, I want to write a few posts about theater in general and my experiences performing it. These posts will probably cover: Kabuki, Noh and Kyogen. And the modern acting troupe Takarazuka, who have their roots in traditional theater.

Most of my posts on this blog are about Japan and my life here. I think I'd like to go a little deeper into Japanese culture with some of my future posts, and talk about some of the things most people will never learn just by visiting or even living here. You can visit hundreds of shrines and see a lot of cities, but if you want to really get to know Japan, start with its language, its art and its history.

Me and a friend performing a Kyogen dance about a geisha, at Portland State.

Other posts on Japanese Theater:

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