The aim of the present article is two-fold. First, it specifies dramaturgical traits of kabuki and jôruri plays produced around the Genroku period (1688-1704), when each actor showed off his own particular acting style (geizukushi). Second, it demonstrates how consciously and repeatedly Chikamatsu Monzaemon (1653-1725) employed the same dramaturgical format that he had learned from writing sewa kyôgen (kabukidomestic drama to compose his sewa jôruri. Compared to Edo kabuki, which relied on a specific “world,” Kamigata plays were created through a combination of fixed patterns. This practice was introduced precisely because Genroku kabuki was a continuum of independent acting arts (gei) brought together by the leading actors who monopolized the show for a time. Therefore, it is natural that the structures of domestic drama, contrary to their “realistic” appearance, were built on existing play structures, such as oie kyôgen (plays about conflicts within the daimyô households). Chikamatsu’s six works of sewa jôruri, all of which fall under the love-suicide subgenre, employed the oie kyôgen style. In other words, Chikamatsu played with the patterns of domestic drama and love-suicide plays, rather than put a lot of effort into making stories of literary value. Unlike the familiar image of the Chikamatsu who was indignant at feudal society, or the idealist who believed in the goodness of humankind, he was a sober formalist.
Despite regular international tours by his theatre company Seinendan, interest in Hirata Oriza’s plays in the Anglophone world is not as pronounced as it might be. One reason for this might be negative comments on certain aspects of Hirata’s work by the critic Uchino Tadashi. In introducing this new translation of Kagaku suru Kokoro (The Scientifically Minded, 1990), theatre director Tim Keenan argues that while criticism within Japanese cultural contexts may be merited, it tends to focus on Hirata’s theoretical writings rather than the plays themselves, thereby overlooking some often subtle cultural commentary. Moreover, the import of Uchino’s arguments may be negated when the plays are considered outside Japanese contexts, especially in translation as here.
The play itself is an early but characteristic example of Hirata’s ‘Quiet Theatre’ style which, in its aim to represent the mundane interactions of daily life, eschews many of the features of conventional drama including overt theatricality and plotting. Whether in the original Japanese or, as here, in an idiomatic English translation, The Scientifically Minded is ideally suited for university production. The large cast (16) includes nine female roles, the age range is approximately from 19 to early 30s, and actors and directors will relish the performance challenges posed by Hirata’s style.
In this paper, I examine the character of Oedipus’ action narrated on the stage, namely, the Vorgeschichte of the stage action. Two realms of action are considered separately: first, Corinth and Delphi, where the words of the drunk at the banquet was at issue, and second, the crossroads, where fatal meeting between Laios and his young son occurred.
As for the first realm, I argue that what the drunk said was not only false, but implied a grave abuse against the assumed mother of Oedipus, Merope, and Oedipus had good intellectual and moral reason for not taking him seriously and not connecting Pythian oracle with the libel.
As for the second, I argue that his story of the crossroads is full of indeterminacies which made it impossible to determine the culpability of his action. What is more, whether Oedipus was morally culpable or not is irrelevant to the tragic outcome at the crossroads as far as he followed the principle of exceeding, one of the basic virtues of the heroic tradition.
However, to conclude that it is this heroic principle of exceeding that is denounced in this tragedy because it is inconsistent with the democratic principle of classical Athens is to oversimplify the matter implied in this tragedy. This principle was still felt positively for a spectator who could imagine himself to be in such a situation as a crossroads where it is not sure one can rely on any legal authority. Oedipus was, in this sense, “like us” and that is why his fall caused “pity” of the spectator.
Since the late 20th century, a new compositional or improvisational technique in dance has been created, by William Forsythe among others. This technique has built a new vocabulary of movement, developing methods for generating and modifying movements and establishing concepts and terminology for the procedures corresponding to them. Although what Forsythe aims at with this methodology is way beyond what classical ballet does, the mechanism for building such a vocabulary appears to be similar to that used in classical ballet, if both are viewed in the light of the principle of variation. To compare the mechanisms for both styles of dance, in this paper the author first analyses the technique for building such a vocabulary in contemporary dance, and then in the construction of a classical ballet vocabulary – not as a fixed structure, but in how it is, and has been, built and expanded. To examine the latter, the focus is especially on the fact that classical dance steps have changed significantly over time, while the basic terminology has changed little. The comparison seeks to demonstrate that the technique for building a vocabulary in contemporary dance is in essence an application of the mechanisms used in classical dance. Throughout the discussion, this paper tries to bring light to bear on the potential for changing or inventing new things in the intrinsic mechanism of classical dance, even though this tends to be regarded as a style of dance whose vocabulary is composed of a predetermined set of steps and phrases subject only to rearrangement.