Star Designing and Myth Making

Luminary Acts, Flamboyant Tricks, and Stylizing Erotics:Genroku (1688–1703) through Bunka Bunsei (1804–1829)
  • Katherine Mezur


Throughout the entire history of kabuki, star onnagata contributed performance innovations that gradually crystallized into conventions. Generation after generation of onnagata learned the innovations of star onnagata and assimilated their outstanding patterns. The star onnagata innovations became part of a “loosely fixed” system of onnagata gender acts that comprise the stylized onnagata performance kata (forms) of contemporary kabuki. Each star performer contributed his own technique(s), concept(s), or image(s). I focus on those innovative moments that were exploited by subsequent generations to eventually become the system of rules and standards for all onnagata gender performance. This review of star onnagata spans the early eighteenth to the early twentieth century, or the Genroku through Meiji periods.


Gender Role Dance Role Female Role Role Type Star Image 
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© Katherine Mezur 2005

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  • Katherine Mezur

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