chapter  8
29 Pages

Kabuki Goes Official: The 1878 Opening of the Shintomi-za

A large proportion of the plays in the Japanese kabuki theatre are maruhon mono: that is, plays originally written for and performed by the puppet theatre. Shinrei Yaguchi no Watashi (Miracle at Yaguchi Ferry) is one of the many puppet plays that have found their way into kabuki. The metamorphosis that Yaguchi underwent in its transposition from a theatre of puppets to one of actors will probably give a fair idea of the process in general as it might apply to other plays. This chapter describes some of the ways in which Yaguchi was changed to make it a suitable vehicle for kabuki actors and to provide a translation of the kabuki version of that part of the play that is still performed. The narrator's presence in the kabuki version of Yaguchi is not the only element recalling the play's puppet origins.