H01 Unique Expressions and Acting

"Okyogen gakuyahonsetsu" First volume
Author: Santei Shunba
Artist: Kunisada the Second
Chubon, 2 volumes in 2 books
Published:1858(Ansei 5), Edo
Ritsumeikan Art Research Center(hayBK03-0808)

In this section, we would like to highlight some special stage effects of Kabuki. It is said that Kabuki is such a stylized theatrical play. However, looking into details, it has been performed in various ways, and its variety appears from costume, make up, to stage effects such as a sound and lightning. Depending on the situation, special stage setting and large properties were used, or actors themselves elaborate their performance. Thus, Kabuki has created various special stage techniques which make Kabuki distinguished from other theatrical play genres.
For example, Kabuki stage was created based on Noh stage in its origin, but as it developed, Hanamichi, Seriage, and Mawari-butai, all of three are stage equipment, were added, and it became possible to control time and space on the stage. In addition to them, there are more rigging of large properties which are sometimes focused as a appealing point of the stage, such as Tomi, making a stage look deeper, Yatai kuzushi which enable to make a quick scene change.
Not just the stage rigging, Hayagawari, one actor playing several characters at the same stage by quickly changing costumes or changing the character's appearance (it means the character's attribution) before audiences, and Chunori, lifting actors in the air to express the character's superficial power were also put in hand from early days. All of them have entertained the audiences to this day. In addition, unique make up called Kumadori, one of the technique of speaking lines called Tsurane, and special movement called Mie are also specific to Kabuki.
The picture on the right side shows Seriage, which was driven by man-power. Under the stage was called Naraku and it was dark because they only used candle lights. Interesting about this is that the floor of the stage and Seri were separated, so they stacked stage floorboards on the side of the hole when they use Seri. The picture on the left side shows Yatai kuzushi, and they could change the scene quickly by using it. (,)

 Hanamichi, Seriage, Mawaributai