Kabuki Mind

Last week at my book group we were all tired and slap happy. There were many belly-laugh moments. From the start Ann and I were making each other giggle. We bumped in to each other at the front door to Dena’s apartment and when I asked how she was doing I thought she said: “ephelant”. I decided that was a combination of elephant and excellent. She was an excellent elephant and so the evening began.

At the end, I said the dinner and discussion had been a “balsam” for me. No one seemed to think that meant what I wanted it to mean, like a balm. Later I did a little online research and found that after all the woody definitions, balsam also had the meaning I had intended: nr.9 was any agency that heals, soothes, or restores: “the balsam of understanding and appreciation.”

In the middle of the evening for some unknown reason we all began to laugh about having a “Kabuki Mind”.  I just fell in love with this, I think, made up term. I still love it in the bright light of a well-slept day. I decided to look up Kabuki to find out more about this Japanese art form. In the process I discovered to my surprise that when this theater form started in the early 1600s it was performed by solely by women! I cut and pasted the wikipedia passage below. Now I’d like to read a more thorough the history of Kabuki.

FROM WIKIPEDIA: 1603–1629: Female kabuki

The history of kabuki began in 1603 when Okuni of Izumo, possibly a miko of Izumo Taisha, began performing a new style of dance drama in the dry riverbeds of Kyoto. Female performers played both men and women in comic playlets about ordinary life. The style was instantly popular; Okuni was even asked to perform before the Imperial Court. In the wake of such success, rival troupes quickly formed, and kabuki was born as ensemble dance and drama performed by women—a form very different from its modern incarnation. Much of its appeal in this era was due to the ribald, suggestive performances put on by many troupes; this appeal was further augmented by the fact that the performers were often also available for prostitution.[1] For this reason, kabuki was also written “歌舞妓” (singing and dancing prostitute) during the Edo Period.

In kabuki’s nascent period, women were the only performers in the plays. Soon women began attracting the wrong types of audiences and gaining too much attention from men. This type of attention raised some eyebrows and officials felt as if women were degrading the art of kabuki. In 1629, women were banned from appearing in kabuki performances.[2]


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