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Kabuki Playwriting: The Oral Connection

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Chapter Summary

The process of play creation in many ways functioned like the process of oral storytelling. Stories were narrated and developed by certain individuals who helped shape and reformulate them through their own particular talents and through interaction with the audience to whom they spoke. In kabuki, those responsible for composing plays also acted as spokesmen and articulators for a community, much like reciters of folktales. The list of playwrights in Kezairoku is significant for the unbroken chain of spokesmen and contributors it represents. Few men are recorded with more than their name and perhaps a passing comment tying them in some way to the others. Such comments tell us with whom they studied or worked or to whom (in the theatre world) they may have been related. The significance of those few men with longer entries is measured by how well they articulated the tradition as they received it.

Keywords: contributors; Kabuki; Kezairoku; oral storytelling; play creation; playwriting; spokesmen



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