Theory into Performance

Transgressing Genders: Toward an Intercultural Feminist Theory of Gender Performance
  • Katherine Mezur


Japanese scholars identify onnagata performance as an essential feature of kabuki theatre. There are many published studies of famous onnagata, their performance histories, and their stylization techniques. There is rarely a general book or article on kabuki that does not refer to the onnagata as a unique feature of kabuki. Scholars proudly compare the onnagata tradition to the ancient Greek practice of male actors in female roles, to Shakespeare’s boy actors in female roles, and to the Beijing Opera’s dan (female role specialist). The art of the kabuki onnagata is venerated as a Japanese tradition that may be ranked alongside other great cultural expressions of the world. The onnagata is a cultural icon bound to a past that is deeply cherished.


Gender Role Gender Identity Male Body Female Role Role Type 
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© Katherine Mezur 2005

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  • Katherine Mezur

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