Kabuki theatre is an art form that seems otherworldly to Western theatre goers. From the elaborate costumes and makeup to the way the actors speak, nothing about Kabuki falls into the realm of realism that Westerners are accustomed to seeing at the theater. Kabuki theatre is actor focused. It is not unheard of for leading actors to be served tea during the middle of a performance. Audience members call out the family name of their favorite performers. Crew are there to assist the actors and are not even recognized by name in the program. This is wildly different from the Western world, where theatre is largely about the audience and crews get much recognition for their work. In the Western world, the unseen organizer of all things theatrical is the stage manager. Invisible when their job is done correctly, stage managers call all the cues for the show and are the main source of communication among actors, designers, and the director.
This presentation is a speculative project about how a Western stage manager could manage an Eastern performance of Kabuki. Is it possible to stage manage successfully an art as intricate as Kabuki? More importantly, is it necessary? Does traditional stage management even make sense for Kabuki? Through research, this session argues that, though it is entirely possible to stage manage a Kabuki performance, the nature of Kabuki takes away the necessity for a traditional Western stage manager.
Donna Warfield, ’17
Sponsor: Scott Olinger