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Unformatted text preview: red, in this phase of his career, primarily for his experiments
in combining scenes from Shakespeare on the same programs with kabuki
plays. Osanai and his supporters, on the other hand, completely rejected
traditional Japanese theatrical forms, with their characteristic mixture of
music, dance, and acting, in favor of the representational, essentially
“spoken” theatre of the modern West. As one scholar has observed:
The enthusiastic followers of Osanai, who eventually assumed almost exclusive leadership in the shingeki world of the following decades, considered
Shakespeare and the Western classics before Ibsen at the same level as nò and
kabuki. They considered these to belong to a world without any connection
with the vital problems of modern man—a world where dance, music, the 294 The Fruits of Modernity stylization and professionalism of the actors could provide entertainment on
a commercial basis for nonintellectuals, but not the discussion and the message of a new world to come needed by intellectuals for a rapid modernization of the country.29 Osanai and the avant-garde of shingeki fervently subscribed to the literary movement of naturalism, which was at its peak of popularity in
Japan when they began their activities and which, they believed, would
enable them to reproduce life as it was actually lived with almost scientific accuracy. The novelist Tanizaki Junichirò, himself an antinaturalist,
made this observation about the naturalist boom of the time: “the tyranny
of Naturalism was so fierce . . . that any common hack could obtain literary recognition just so long as he wrote a naturalism story.”30 And one
shingeki actor said that naturalism meant so much to him and his fellow
performers that they were prepared to die for it.31
To Osanai, naturalism was equatable with modernism, and in his overriding desire to break with the theatrical past of Japan he called upon the
people of shingeki to “ignore tradition” and devote themselves to the naturalist (that is, modernist) theatre of the West. He even suggested that the
Japanese, at least for the time b...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.
- Spring '13