Sunday, November 13, 2016

Backstage at the Kabuki Theater

Today we spent quite a bit of time enjoying the exhibit
"Japanese Prints of Kabuki Theater from the Collection of the University of Michigan Museum of Art."
As always, I was interested in the few prints that depicted food.
The print in which this image appears is titled "Backstage Celebrations of a Full-House Hit at the Ichimura Theater."
In this detail, a delicious-looking whole fish was prepared for the actors presumably waiting to go onstage.
The artist is Utagawa Kunisada, the date of the print is 1811-14.

An actor, holding his small child, is also having some tea.
In another panel of three-part print, these men are serving tea or soup in covered dishes.

The large number of displayed prints include close-up portraits of actors, scenes with stage settings and dramatized moments from famous Kabuki plays, and imagined meetings between actors. Also in the exhibit is a short video with scenes from Kabuki drama as still presented in Tokyo, and a beautiful red kimono that was once worn onstage. 

I learned a great deal about the popularity of this drama in the 18th and 19th century. Some of the prints were handed out as advertisements for the plays; others were sold to be collected by loyal fans of particular actors. Though now valuable museum-pieces the prints were originally very cheap or even given away for free. A few even contain ads for other products and businesses. 

All parts in Kabuki plays were played by male actors who specialized in either male or female roles. Interestingly, the actors who played women's parts were often influential in setting fashion for actual women of the time.


Summer said...

Hmmm Men playing women roles??? ☺☺☺♥

Mae Travels said...

Hi Summer -- The Kabuki tradition doesn't seem so surprising when you consider that in Shakespeare's theater when he was writing, all actors were also men or boys. Think about it -- the roles of Juliet in "Romeo and Juliet" and of Ophelia in "Hamlet" and of Lady MacBeth were all written for male actors!
best... mae

Jeanie said...

This looks like a good exhibit. And yes, comment above -- that's what they all did back then, men playing the women. (Imagine the brawls between Kate and Petruccio in Taming of the Shrew or Desdemona and Othello!)

I love how you featured the cuisine-related images! Reminds me of all those good things under those little covered dishes when we were in Japan!

Beth F said...

So many good food images!

Alex said...

Interesting there are so many food images. It must have been a very interesting exhibit.

jama said...

Fascinating images. The food ones would have attracted my attention too. Thanks for sharing!

(Diane) bookchickdi said...

It must be international week at Weekend Cooking- we've had Russian, Japanese and London so far.

Carole said...

Love the colours. Have a great week. Cheers from Carole's Chatter

Vicki said...

Interesting post! Love the images.

Heidenkind said...

Love this post! It's interesting to compare these prints to foodie manga series like Oishinbo.