Monday, October 17, 2005

Reading Masterpieces of Kabuki III

More about the book. As it says,

"From these plays it is abundantly clear that kabuki is not, as it is sometimes said to be, a monolithic theatre with a limited range of possiblities. On the contrary, its dramaturgy, themes, characters, and performing styles continually altered audience reality, while keeping a firm hold on its past. Just a Minute! is a boastful, fantastic earlier work: Precious Incense is morally implacable, serious, and mature; Kasane reeks of over-the-top cruelty and decadence; while The Woman Student speaks in the unmistakable voice of the modern world." (15)

These are the plays:

1697 Just a Minute! Shibaraku
1730 The Stone Cutting Feat of Kajiwara Kajiwara Heizô no Ishikiri
1745 Summer Festival: The Mirror of Osaka Natsu Matsuri Naniwa Kagami
1766 Japan's Twenty-Four Paragons of Filial Piety Honchô Nijûshikô
1777 The Precious Incense and Autumn Flowers of Sendai Meiboku Sendai Hagi
1781 The Revenge at Tengajaya Katakiuchi Tengajaya
1796 A Message of Love from Yamato Koi Tayori Yamato Ôrai
1799 The Picture Book of the Taikô Ehon Taikôki
1813 The Scandalous Love of Osome and Hisamatsu Osome Hisamatsu Ukina no Yomiuri
1823 Kasane
1836 Masakado
1851 The Tale of the Martyr of Sakura Sakura Giminden
1860 The Three Kichisas and the New Year's First Visit to the Pleasure Quarters Sannin Kichisa Kuruwa no Hatsugai
1877 The Woman Student Onna Shosei Shigeru
1883 The Fishmonger Sôgorô Sakanaya Sôgorô
1892 The Dropped Robe Suô Otoshi
1893 The Mirror Lion, A Spring Diversion Shunkyô Kagami Jishi
1905 A Sinking Moon over the Lonely Castle Where the Cuckoo Cries Hototogisu Kojô Rakugetsu

Nice translations of the titles; they really make you want to see the plays, a lot of them. As a title, "Kasane" of course is not all that exciting perhaps. But if you know anything about the play, well, it will send shivers down your spine. "A fearsome tale indeed."

Structure of the book then: Preface, introduction, eighteen translations, glossary (337-342), bibliography. Author info, index at the end. There is also a handy list of the titles of the plays included in the four-volume set that makes your REALLY WANT the four-volume set. Wow! What a great list of plays! I'm delighted A) yes these are indeed plays that get performed a lot, so if I had this whole set, I'd enjoy my kabuki viewing a lot more and B) the poets I work on, Yosa Buson especially (who was a crazy kabuki fan) refer to these plays in their poems a lot. How useful!