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How Does the Billy-Goat Produce Milk? Sergei Eisenstein’s Disintegration and Reconstitution of Kabuki Theatre

  • Min Tian
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History book series (PSTPH)

Abstract

Sergei Eisenstein’s interpretation of Kabuki theatre has gone fundamentally unquestioned and unchallenged for several decades. But what was exactly in Kabuki theatre—essentially the product of an alien and distant feudal society—that fed and stimulated the intellectual questions of Eisenstein, a twentieth-century Soviet avant-garde theatre and film director? How exactly did Eisenstein find in this centuries-old art form “an unexpected juncture” with the modernity of the sound film, or more precisely, his theory of montage? By a close examination of Eisenstein’s interpretation of Kabuki theatre, this chapter demonstrates that Eisenstein displaced and disintegrated the principles and techniques of Kabuki theatre from its historical and aesthetic contexts and appropriated and reconstituted them into his theoretical discourse. Thus, the “milk” Eisenstein extracted and reformulated from Kabuki theatre was no longer organically Japanese; it was artificially Eisensteinian, as the “goat” had been “transgendered,” “genetically” altered, and historically and aesthetically displaced.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Min Tian
    • 1
  1. 1.University of IowaIowa CityUSA

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