We are delighted to announce the publication by Cambridge of A History of Japanese Theatre, edited by Jonah Salz. Featuring chapters by fifty international experts, including fifteen Japanese scholars, this book is the first in English since Benito Ortolani’s 1991 to introduce the whole span of Japanese theatre, from early shrine and temple performances to present-day “quiet theatre” and butoh. Section 1’s long chapters on pre-noh court and folk performance, noh, kyogen, bunraku, and kabuki, with smaller “spotlight” articles on kagura, katari, rakugo, and nihonbuyo—a full 200 pages of the 600 page book—might be considered as an ideal textbook for those teaching traditional theatre. Section 2 covers modern theatre, and Section 3 includes cross-genre sections on “metapatterns in playwrighting”, stages of Shakespeare production, theatre criticism and scholarship, and intercultural training and productions. It is intended as a gateway text for scholars and artists interested in Japanese performance, traditional, modern, and intercultural.
In addition to detailed histories of each genre, their fascination in performance is analyzed with passion and rigor. There is a timeline, over 60 photographs, copious references (English and Japanese), and detailed index that should make this a useful tool for further research. Details can be found on the links below, including table of contents and list of authors, which including Brian Powell, J. Thomas Rimer, Andrew C. Gerstle, Goto Shizuo, Minami Ryuta, Carol Sorgenfrei, Julie Iezzi, Eric C. Rath, Cody Poulton, and Laurence Kominz. Interviews with the late Ninagawa Yukio and Hirata Oriza provide the book with an insider’s perspective of the special features and potential future of Japanese performance in all its kaleidoscopic variety. An E-book is also available. We think that this overview will be an invaluable tool in world theatre and Asian performance courses.