Kabuki is a form of traditional Japanese drama with highly stylized song, mime, and dance, now performed only by male actors. Japanese originally used this as a verb meaning "act dissolutely," later interpreting the word as "ka" for song, "bu" for dance, and "ki" for art/skill. Kabuki theater is known for the stylization of its drama and for the elaborate makeup worn by some of its performers. Kabuki is therefore sometimes translated as "the art of singing and dancing." Since the word kabuki is believed to derive from the verb kabuku, meaning "to learn" or "to be out of the ordinary," kabuki can be "bizarre" theater. The expression kabukimono referred originally to those who were bizarrely dressed and paraded on a street.
The Kabuki Stage Features
Hanamichi-a flower path, walkway which extends into the audience via which dramatic entrances and exits are made; Okuni also performs on a hanamichi stage with her entourage; Kogakudo-kabuki theaters that have stages both in front of the audience and along the sides help create a bond between the actors and viewers; Mawaro butal-the interior of the theater contains a revolving stage; Suppon-a platform that rises from below the stage; Hanamicho-a walkway that cuts through the audience setting area to connect the stage with the back of the theater. Magicians and supernatural beings often make their entrances from trap doors in the hanamichi. Some stages have 17 trapdoors.
The Three Main Categories of the Kabuki Play Jidaimono-historical or pre-Sengoku period stories Sewamono-domestic or post-Sengoku stories Shosagoto-dance pieces
Jidaimono, or history plays, were set within the context of major events in Japanese history. Strict censorship laws during the Edo period prohibited the representation of contemporary events and particularly prohibited criticizing the shogunate or casting it in a bad light, although enforcement varied greatly over the years. Sewamono focused primarily upon commoners (townspeople and peasants). It is generally related to themes of family drama and romance.
Elements of Kabuki Mie in which the actor holds a picturesque pose to establish his character and his house name yago, is sometimes heard in a loud shout (kakegoe) from an expert audience member, serving both to express and enhance the audience's appreciation of the actor's achievement. An even greater compliment can be paid by shouting the name of the actor's father Kesho. Actors are separated into two main categories: Onna-gata refer to the female roles and Aragoto refer to the male roles. Most main characters in kabuki plays are aragoto, because of its super-stylized masculine, heroic style. Makeup is also one of the most iconic parts of kabuki. Actors apply their own makeup by painting their faces and necks white, then adding stylized lines in red, black, or blue. The colors and lines that are used tells what kind of character is being young women have very little paint.
The Color of the kumadori is an expression of the character's nature:
red lines are used to indicate passion, heroism, righteousness, and other positive traits; pink for youthful joy; light blue for an even temper; pale green for peacefulness; blue or black for villainy, jealousy, and other negative traits; green for the supernatural; and purple for nobility.