A Beggar's Art
Scripting Modernity in Japanese Drama, 1900-1930
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University of Hawai'i Press
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For a couple of decades in the early twentieth century, straddling the TaishÅ era (1912â1926), drama enjoyed something of a heyday in Japanese literature. Almost every writer of the day at least dabbled in this form, and manyâ including Tanizaki JunâichirÅ, Yamamoto YÅ«zÅ, Kikuchi Kan, Kume Masao, Arishima Takeo, MushanokÅji Saneatsu, Nogami Yaeko, and Ueda (Enchi) Fumiko, to name just a fewâestablished themselves as playwrights ...
Chapter 1 Meiji Drama Theory before Isben
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As with so many other aspects of life in Meiji Japan, theatre also went through the convulsions of modernization, and theatre âreformâ (as it was called) was part and parcel of a public effort to create a modern, âcivilizedâ nation. These were, in the first place, top-down efforts by the government to clean up kabukiâs unsavory reputation as a vulgar entertainment for the masses and make it presentable ...
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Chapter 2 The Rise of Modern Drama, 1909-1924
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âThe opening of the Free Theatre is nothing other than the expression of our desire to live,â proclaimed Osanai Kaoru at the premiere of Ibsenâs John Gabriel Borkman on November 27, 1909. Novelist and playwright Tanizaki JunâichirÅ (1886â1965) was at the premiere and recalled of Osanai that âsuch glory comes perhaps but once in a lifetime for a man.â1 It was not only a defining moment in Osanaiâs career ...
The Boxwood Comb, by Okada Yachiyo
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As we have seen, the Japanese premiere of Henrik Ibsenâs A Doll House by Tsubouchi ShÅyÅâs Literary Theatre in 1911 had an electric effect on Japanâs intelligentsia. Noraâs character sparked intense debate, not least in the pages of The Blue Stocking (SeitÅ), the feminist magazine established by Hiratsuka RaichÅ. ...
The Ruby, by Izumi KyÅka
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By the beginning of the TaishÅ era, Izumi KyÅka was already a well-established novelist. He had made a name for himself in the 1890s, while still in his early twenties, as a writer of sensational stories noted for their action, ornate language, and biting social criticism. The rising shinpa star Kawakami OtojirÅ staged a bowdlerized version of one of KyÅkaâs first successful novels ...
Father Returns, Kikuchi Kan
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A 1920 production of Father Returns by kabuki actor Ichikawa Ennosuke IIâs company ShunjÅ«-za at the Shintomi-za created a sensation. The playwright himself recalled the event some years later ...
The Valley Deep, by Suzuki SenzaburÅ
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Aside from Koheiji Lives (Ikiteiru Koheiji, 1924), which Åyama Isao consideredone of the most important Japanese plays of the twentieth century, not much is known about Suzuki SenzaburÅ (1893â1924) and the almost two dozen plays he wrote during his short life. Few of his plays have been republished since they first appeared, mostly in the early 1920s, and the fame of Koheiji Lives, which continues to be staged regularly ...
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Chapter 3 After the Quake
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Shortly before noon on September 1, 1923, a major earthquake struck the Tokyo region. Cooking fires, wooden houses, and broken gas lines caused a conflagration that would not die down for days. Severed water mains prevented firemen from putting out the fires. Estimates vary, but almost 700,000 houses were either partially or totally destroyed.1 Approximately 140,000 people perished ...
The Skeleton's Dance, by Akita Ujaku
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At the time of the Great KantÅ Earthquake, Akita Ujaku was on a lecture tour of his native TÅhoku (northeast) region, meeting fellow Esperantists.1 He returned briefly to his hometown, Kuroishi in Aomori, leaving on September 4 for Tokyo. An army officerâs remark on the train outside Tokyo about the rumor that Koreans had been lighting fires after the earthquake had made the other passengers laugh. ...
Brief Night, by Kubota MantarÅ
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Over the course of his long career as a playwright, Kubota MantarÅ produced over sixty plays (not including childrenâs and radio drama) in the turbulent years between the tail end of the Meiji era and Japanâs postwar reconstruction. An accomplished poet and novelist, he was also a brilliant director and dramaturge whose shinpa adaptations of fiction by Higuchi IchiyÅ, Izumi KyÅka, and TanizakiJunâichirÅ are still periodically staged. ...
Two Men at Play with Life, by Kishida Kunio
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More has been written in English on Kishida Kunio than on any other figure in modern Japanese theatre, and more of his works have been translated than those of any other prewar Japanese playwright. English criticism on Kishida nonetheless reflects the fierce debate his name stirs up in Japanese letters. For Thomas Rimer, author of a seminal study of Kishida and the shingeki movement, Kishida was âthe first dramatist to succeed in putting into dramatic form the contemporary Japanese spirit.â1 David Goodman ...
Rain of Ice, by Hasegawa Shigure
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Only seven years younger than Higuchi IchiyÅ, Hasegawa Shigure (1879â 1941) was Japanâs first woman playwright and an indefatigable supporter of women writers. As editor of the magazines Womenâs Art (1923) and its successor, Shine (Kagayaku, 1934), she helped launch the careers of Okamoto Kanoko ...
Mama, by Tanaka Chikao
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Known best for his postwar dramas, Tanaka Chikaoâs (1905â1995) debut play, Mama, is a remarkably accomplished work.1 The playwright Tsujimura Sumikoâshe would marry Tanaka in 1934âsaw the premiere and recalled: âWhat impressed me was how the Japanese language could be conveyed so vividly. ..."
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Publication Year: 2010