The Kabuki Tradition and Creative Flexibility

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This paper calls into question the fixedness of the tradition of kabuki, which allegedly necessitates strict preservation. Modern kabuki’s young actors feel uncomfortable with being entirely tradition bound. Perceiving this crisis situation, they have recently begun to reshape the tradition of kabuki. Such a radical change requires fresh eyes that can provide new insight into the long-standing kabuki tradition. This challenging approach to the redefinition of kabuki invites forward-looking actors to collaborate across the strictly defined boundaries of theatre. The principal figures of this challenge are the ambitious and charismatic actor Nakamura Kanzaburô and acclaimed director of Japanese alternative theatre Kushida Kazuyoshi. Their sincere reconsideration of the fixed tradition of kabuki can be associated with the concept of “born translated” proposed by Rebecca Walkowitz, a scholar of translation studies. Her concept, which defies the original-copy dichotomy, helps shed light on a new movement in kabuki that seeks not to destroy kabuki tradition, but rather to reinvigorate it.