Compare and Contrast Kabuki Theater With Modern Broadway Theater
Singers and an orchestra of drums, flutes, wooden clappers, and samisen (a stringed instrument similar to the banjo) accompanied the highly stylized dialogue, lively and often violent action, and captivating dances of Kabuki. The plays were all-day entertainments that included lunch and tea.
But even with this not insignificant preparation, the average American theatergoer enters a dazzlingly different world in‐Kabuki theater.The dance “Renjishi” is based on a Chinese legend about the training of a lion cub by its parent in the rigors of survival. It has become a favorite signature piece for the father‐and‐son team, Kanzaburo and Kankuro. It is a fine example of the virtuosity of Kabuki actors as dancers, and it is astounding that Kanzaburo XVII is performing the dance at the age of 70. It is fitting that he is considered one of Japan's greatest Living National Treasures. But what has the Kabuki to do with American theater? How can such a totally different theatrical world contribute to our theater? I asked some of our leading directors and theater experts what they had learned and what they believed Kabuki could contribute to American theater.
The change in status from enterprise to industry gave rise to the commercial theatre systems of the West End in London and Broadway in New York City. Improvement in travel in general made it possible to increase the links between the two systems early in the 20th century, and the exchange of productions further extended the possibilities of profitable exploitation.