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Identity Politics in Women's Performance in Japan


In Japan, it was in the mid-1970s when women artists started to create their own professional theatre companies. This period also saw the development of the women's liberation movement in Japan, but there was no exchange between women theatre artists and activists. While the women artists explored a variety of issues in their work, with some few exceptions feminism was not their primary concern. This trend continues to this day, and accounts for why Tadashi Uchino argues that there has been no feminist theatre in Japan.

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1 Uchino, Tadashi, Crucible Bodies: Postwar Japanese Performance from Brecht to the New Millennium (London, New York and Calcutta: Seagull Books, 2009), p. 14.

2 In Japanese, family names come before given names. I will follow this convention except for those who publish in English.

3 In Japanese, ‘Jesus’ is pronounced ‘yesu’, and this is the same with the Japanized pronunciation of the English term ‘yes’. Thus ‘No Christ’ and ‘Yes Christ’ are puns.

4 For an in-depth discussion of Kegawa-zoku's work see my article, ‘Two-Dimensional Imagination in Contemporary Japanese Women's Performance’, forthcoming in TDR (T212).

5 Dotekabo-ichiza no bideo o mitai kai (Group of/for People Who Want to Watch a Video of Dotekabo-ichiza), Video/DVD Handbook: Dotekabo-ichiza Myūzukaru onna no kaihō 1975 (Dotekabo-ichiza Muse-cal Emancipation of Women 1975) (Tokyo, 2005), p. 1.

7 Senda, Yuki, ‘Aidentiti to pojishonariti’ (Identity and Positionality), in Ueno, Chizuko, ed., Datsu aidentiti (De-identity) (Tokyo: Keisō shobō, 2005), pp. 267–87, here p. 277, my translation. What she means by ‘other conditions’ include race, ethnicity and issues of disability, conditions that often cause economic inequality among women (p. 273).

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Theatre Research International
  • ISSN: 0307-8833
  • EISSN: 1474-0672
  • URL: /core/journals/theatre-research-international
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