Performative Gender Role Types
An analysis of onnagata gender performance would not be complete without an explanation of onnagata yakugara (role types). The contemporary onnagata yakugara is a system of multiple and variable genders based on and articulated by the male body beneath. Gender role types were part of the policing regime of the Edo period bakufu. In its early stages, wakashu were required to register as onnagata. These early wonder boys already knew the power of fashion and transformation. While playwrights are often credited for the creation of more complex narratives and characters, the flamboyant wakashu appear to have combined their need to attract patrons, develop their range of roles, and maintain their cutting-edge fashion prestige. Successive generations of onnagata took advantage of role types in order to devise their particular celebrity profile and still preserve their beautiful boy alchemy. The onnagata yakugara are critical to their extraordinary protean female-likeness and they further mutate and complicate the reading of the role and the body beneath.
KeywordsGender Role Young Girl Male Body Role Type Female Gender Role
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- 5.Toita Yasuji, Onnagata no Subet 165–171, 177–182, 189–193. Note that Toita’s yūj role type takes up seventeen pages compared to the other role types of three to four pages.Google Scholar
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