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Gender and homosexuality in Takarazuka theatre: Twelfth Night and Epiphany

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Abstract:

Since it was founded in 1913, the all-female theatre, the Takarazuka Revue, has attracted a largely female audience. The Meiji modernization (18681912) occasioned the appearance of actresses on the Japanese stage, the emergence of a Japanese feminist movement and a disapproval of homosexual practices. These changes contributed to the founding of Takarazuka theatre, and influenced its policies on gender and sexuality. In two Takarazuka productions of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (1999), the portrayals of female roles negotiated with the dichotomy of gender stereotypes and affected the display of homoerotic attractions on the stage. Furthermore, the androgynous charms in the performances became a medium to transform homosexual desires into acceptable homoeroticism in the Japanese shjo fashion. The homosexual implication on the stage, therefore, could be pardoned or interpreted as an expression of temporary adolescent confusion about sexuality.

Keywords: Japanese theatrical conventions; homoeroticism; representation of gender; sexuality; shjo culture; suffrage

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1386/peet.1.1.53_1

Affiliations: Providence University of Taiwan.

Publication date: 2010-10-01

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  • Performing Ethos is a refereed, interdisciplinary journal which considers ethical questions relating to contemporary theatre and live performance. Global in scope, it provides a unique forum for rigorous scholarship and serious reflection on the ethical dimensions of a wide range of performance practices from the politically and aesthetically radical to the mainstream.
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