By Katherine Mezur
This ebook is a feminist examining of the historical past of gender functionality and development of the feminine function gamers, onnagata, of the Kabuki theater. it's not restricted to a "theater arts" concentration, relatively it's a mapping and shut research of transformative genders via numerous historic classes in Japan (the 17th throughout the 20th centuries). specifically, the paintings makes a speciality of undoing of binary genders, the sensual ambiguity of boy-ness, formative years, and female-likeness and the cultural improvement of the aesthetics of eroticism, nostalgia, and cruelty dependent in female-like transformative gender acts. The paintings is additionally a visible cultures research because it attracts not just on literary assets but additionally prints, images, movie, and video documentation.
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Additional info for Beautiful Boys Outlaw Bodies: Devising Kabuki Female-Likeness
52 Pronko’s performance brilliantly demonstrates the theory of gender ambiguity, which is at the heart of onnagata performance. The male body is revealed more and more as it is gradually decorated, concealed, and stylized into the onnagata gender role. The spectators never lose sight of the male body. Yet, because of his skill and the strength of the onnagata kata (forms) created through stylized physical manipulations, layers of costume and wig, makeup, and vocal acts, Pronko transforms. On one hand we see his Western male body beneath in the onnagata role and on the other, he is an “other” gender role that is ambiguous and transformative.
Although both Western scholars and Japanese scholars have formulated various explanations for onnagata performance of female-likeness, often they do not differentiate between onnagata gender acts and women when they discuss plays and characters. Female roles are analyzed as if they were 28 B E AU T I F U L B O Y S real women or as if they represented real women. In the case of onnagata, even if a role originated in a Chikamatsu Monzaemon (1653–1725) doll theatre play, the performed role is an onnagata’s stylized gender acts.
We find men in control of the mirror, with women looking into it for appropriate reflections. 66 What happens in the kabuki mirror? In Edo period kabuki, male actors substituted the onnagata-made female-likeness for women, which served the dominant male ideology. The onnagata reflection in the kabuki mirror shines back as a constructed image of onnagata female-likeness. But this image is a special fantasy gender, differing from the Western polarized gender roles. Even with the male body in control of the mirror, the onnagata image was gender ambiguous.