Kabuki is a form of modern, stylized Japanese theater that includes singing and dancing. Originally women were the only actors, playing both male and female roles, but as the performers began gaining the wrong kind of attention, young male actors called wakashu took over the roles.

There are 3 main types of Kabuki plays:

  1. Jidai-mono tells of a historical moment in Japanese history, but during times of censorship was also used to discreetly comment on current events.
  2. Sewa-mono is a domestic story, focusing more on commoners such as villagers and townspeople, that tells of family and romantic drama. The most famous of these are the lovers’-suicide plays, based off of Bunraku stories.
  3. Shosagoto is a dance piece.

The full length plays usually have 5 distinct acts:

1. The jo is a slow opening which introduces the characters and plot.
2.,3.,4. In the ha, the events speed up, usually with a dramatic or tragic moment in the third act, and a battle in the second or fourth.
5. The kyu is a quick, satisfying conclusion.

Sources Cited:

Lady Macbeth, Macbeth, 2005, NHK, dir. Osome Hisamatsu
Othello, 1960, dir. Tsuneari Fukuda
Desdemona, Othello, 2008, dir. Yoshihiro Kurita
Lord of the Lies, Richard III, 2007, Shochuku Theatre, dir. Hidenori Inoue
The Tempest, 1994, dir. Hanagume Neo-Kabuki