Browse

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 2,261 items for :

  • All content x
Clear All
Restricted access

Canonising Shakespeare in 1920s Japan

Tsubouchi Shōyō and the Translator's Choice

Daniel Gallimore

Abstract

In 1927, just before completing the first Japanese translation of Shakespeare's Complete Works, Tsubouchi Shōyō (1859–1935) selected eight of his translations for inclusion in his own Selected Works, which were published in fifteen volumes in conclusion to his career as one of the leading exponents of cultural reform of his generation. His choice is idiosyncratic as it omits the plays that had become most popular during the period of Shakespeare's initial reception in late nineteenth-century Japan, but includes a number that were relatively unknown, such as Measure for Measure. This article suggests likely reasons for his selection before discussing the comments he makes on each play in his translation prefaces, and thus provides an overview of what Tsubouchi had come to value about Shakespeare.

Restricted access

Deconstructing the Saussurean System of Signification

Miyagi Satoshi and His Mimetic Dramaturgy in Miyagi-Noh Othello

Tomoka Tsukamoto and Ted Motohashi

Abstract

Shakespeare's Othello has been staged overwhelmingly through the racial relationship between the two protagonists, Othello and Iago, at the expense of another protagonist, Desdemona, partly because of the prominence of racial and military perspectives in European modernity, and partly because of the relatively scarce textual presence of Desdemona. Despite the tremendous efforts and contributions of feminist criticism to rectify the imbalance, this female protagonist has been enclosed in the realm of a patriarchal framework that divides women between ‘chaste wife’ and ‘villainous whore’. Miyagi Satoshi's adaptation and staging of Miyagi-Noh Othello, presented at Shizuoka Arts Theatre in 2018, was a remarkable attempt to address this issue, by transforming the whole play into a memory recollected and enacted by the Ghost of Desdemona, through utilising the Japanese ‘Mugen-Noh’ format. Through his mimetic dramaturgy employing the ‘division of speech and movement’ method, Miyagi succeeded in recovering not only Desdemona's testimonies regarding her affectionate and passionate relationship with Othello but also multiple women's ‘her-stories’ hidden and disregarded by male-centred histories authorised by the Venetian ruling class. The detailed analysis of Miyagi's unique and innovative production will unravel the complicated relationship between actors’ words and their bodies in theatrical productions, as well as offer a fresh insight into the hitherto underrated aspect of Othello as an alternative story of inducing everyone's suffering into spiritual atonement by reviving the love which has always already been present even in a society torn by racism, genderism and militarism.

Restricted access

Hamlet and the 47 Ronin

Did Shakespeare Read Chushingura?

Graham Holderness

Abstract

The importation of Shakespeare into Japan in the late 19th century and early 20th centuries, following the opening of Japan to the outside world effected by the Meiji empire, generated a culture clash between the antiquity of the plays themselves, and the identification of Shakespeare with modern English drama. Harue Tsutsumi's play Kanadehon Hamlet explores this conflict, dramatizing the difficulties encountered by a troupe of Japanese actors attempting to perform Hamlet, when their deeper loyalty is to the traditional Japanese revenge play Kanadehon Chushingura. Homing in on a crucial moment in the development of Japanese theatre and Japanese culture, Tsutsumi uses these cultural clashes to map out the possibilities of common ground, the emergence within Japan first of an informed and educated understanding of western drama, and subsequently the development of specifically Japanese appropriations of Shakespeare in which the two cultures can achieve a complex but dynamic engagement.

Restricted access

Hamlet through your legs’

Radical Rewritings of Shakespeare's Tragedy in Japan

Kaori Ashizu

Abstract

This article discusses four Hamlet adaptations produced in twentieth-century Japan: Naoya Shiga's ‘Claudius's Diary’ (1912), Hideo Kobayashi's ‘Ophelia's Testament’ (1931), Osamu Dazai's New Hamlet (1941) and Shohei Ooka's Hamlet's Diary (1955). Though differently motivated, and written in different styles, they collectively make something of a tradition, each revealing a unique, unexpected interpretation of the famous tragedy. Read as a group, they thoroughly disprove the stereotypical view that Japan has generally taken a highly respectful, imitative attitude to Western culture and Shakespeare. Hamlet has certainly been revered in Japan as the epitome of Western literary culture, but these adaptations reveal complicated, ambivalent attitudes towards Shakespeare's play: not only love and respect, but anxiety, competitiveness, resistance and criticism, all expressed alongside an opportunistic urge to appropriate the rich ‘cultural capital’ of the canonical work.

Free access

Graham Holderness

In Britain, from the nineteenth century onwards, the default ‘setting’ for Shakespeare's plays (by which I mean costume, mise-en-scène, and assumed historical and cultural context) has been medieval and early modern: the time of the plays’ composition (late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries) or the time of their historical location (medieval Britain or Europe, ancient Greece or Rome, etc.). In this visual and physical context, Twelfth Night would normally be performed or imagined in Elizabethan or Jacobean, Macbeth and Hamlet in medieval, Julius Caesar in ancient Roman dress and settings. In the historical context of their original production, the plays were performed in contemporary dress with minimal mise-en-scène; through the Restoration and eighteenth century in fashionable modern dress and increasingly naturalistic settings. Today in Britain, Shakespeare can be performed in any style of costume, setting and cultural context, from the time of the plays’ reference to the immediate contemporary present, and often in an eclectic blend of some or all. But strong forces of tradition and cultural memory tie the plays, in their visual and physical realisation as well as their language, to the medieval and early modern past. We see this attachment in film versions of the plays and of Shakespeare's life. We dress Shakespeare in the costumes of all the ages, but we know that he truly belongs, as in the various portraits, in doublet and ruff.

Restricted access

Andreea Şerban

Abstract

Manga – one of Japan's cool cultural products – has undergone, over the past two and a half decades, a process of globalisation, of Western domestication. Manga versions of Shakespeare's canonical works have long been appreciated for their educational value and ‘friendly’ introduction to Shakespeare's dense, multilayered texts. Starting from two Western manga transmediations of Shakespeare's Hamlet, this article focuses on new interpretations given to the character of Ophelia and her interactions with Hamlet, as they become more and more public and monitored. I will show that manga brings to light (or life?) fresh aspects of Ophelia as well as of Hamlet, particularly through the use of chibi, enriching the number of Ophelia's afterlives either by means of aggression or modern technologies, while also ensuring that Shakespeare remains a writer for all times.

Restricted access

Predator or Prey Who Do You Think You Are?

The Dystopian Interpretation/Adaptation of Titus Andronicus in the animation PSYCHO-PASS

Kyoko Matsuyama

Abstract

In the Japanese animation PSYCHO-PASS, the setting is a future Japan where every citizen's mental health is monitored and analysed, and where they can sometimes be terminated according to the state of their mental health. In such a dark and dystopian setting, the motifs from the many bloody quotations of Shakespeare's bloodiest play Titus Andronicus are used in the three-episode multiple murder case of young schoolgirls. The animation shows how Shakespeare is used to stylise and elaborate the serial murder case. This article discusses how Titus Andronicus is used to give relevance and sophistication to serial murder, and how the bloodiness of a serial murder can give a different impression to audiences by the use of literature.

Restricted access

A Rose by Any Other Name May Smell Different

Why Are the Japanese Titles of Shakespearean Films So Odd?

Kitamura Sae

Abstract

Using William Shakespeare's name is considered helpful for marketing films in English-speaking regions because of the authority that this name wields. This article reveals a different marketing landscape in Japan, where film distribution companies are indifferent to associations with Shakespeare. For example, when Ralph Fiennes’ Coriolanus (2011) was released in Japanese cinemas, it was retitled The Proof of the Hero; the Shakespearean association was deliberately erased from the Japanese title. Such a marketing policy should be situated within a wider trend of promoting non-Japanese films in Japan. It is possible to point out three major reasons: the unpopularity of American comedy films, the relative unpopularity of theatre, and Japanese distributors’ heavily localised marketing policies, which are often criticised by fans on social media.

Restricted access

Shadowing Shakespeare

Akira Kurosawa's Kagemusha (1980) and William Shakespeare's English History Plays (c. 1591–98)

Alex Watson

Abstract

In his 1980 film Kagemusha or Shadow Warrior, Akira Kurosawa presents the sixteenth-century Takeda clan engaging a lower-class thief to impersonate their recently deceased leader, Takeda Shingen. I examine Kagemusha as a critical engagement with Shakespeare's English history plays and ‘shadow’ counterpart to Kurosawa's trilogy of Shakespeare adaptations, Throne of Blood (1957), The Bad Sleep Well (1960) and Ran (1985). In keeping with Shakespeare's dramatisation of English history, Kurosawa creatively reworks historical sources, incorporating stories of intergenerational rivalry and fulfilled prophecies, to depict the transition from medieval civil conflict to the early-modern nation-state. Kurosawa also deploys the motif of the double to explore the distinctively Shakespearean theme of power as performance, engaging in a dramatic examination of Machiavelli's ideas about politics. I argue that Kurosawa's use of the double posits a theory of influence, drawing on Japanese cultural traditions, in which doubling can achieve a form of transcendence through self-annihilation.

Restricted access

Apprenticeship and Learning by Doing

The Role of Privileged Enclaves in Early Modern French Cities

Jeff Horn

In France, formal guild training was not as ubiquitous a means of socializing young people into a trade as it has been portrayed by scholars. Guilds were limited geographically, and in many French cities privileged enclaves controlled by clerical or noble seigneurs curbed the sway of corporate structures, or even created their own. Eighteenth-century Bordeaux provides an extreme example of how limited guild training was in France’s fastest-growing city. The clerical reserves of Saint-Seurin and Saint-André that housed much of the region’s industrial production had quasi-corporate structures with far more open access and fewer training requirements. In Bordeaux, journeymen contested masters’ control over labor and masters trained almost no apprentices themselves. Formal apprenticeship mattered exceptionally little when it came to training people to perform a trade in Bordeaux.