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Title: The Japanese geisha 'Madame Hanako' : a renowned actress on the European stage (1902-21)
Author: Negishi, Takako
Awarding Body: SOAS, University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2011
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The Japanese actress Hanako (1868-1945), who performed around Europe for nearly twenty years (1902-21), won huge popularity in the West but little recognition in Japan. However, the simple fact that she captivated European audiences for a long period makes her significant in the initial encounter between Japanese theatre and the West. This thesis argues that Hanako's fame was not just due to her being an exotic performer, but because she was an accomplished actress with an exciting style based on her training and experience in traditional Japanese acting techniques. I look at the life and work of Hanako as a case study, and try to understand her development as an international actress in an intercultural context. The methodological approach is essentially a critical biography, and I will re-evaluate her work in its historical context both in Japan and in the West, as well as look at her life, both of which are presented in chronological order. A striking feature concerning Hanako is the almost bipolar evaluation by the West and Japan. To clarify these contradictory evaluations, her actual performances and their responses are examined using theatre programmes, theatre reviews and other related material sources. Hanako's background as a child actor and as a geisha, the theatre reform movement from the 1880s and Japanese performances in Europe from the 1860s onward are also investigated to understand the setting for Hanako. Finally, I draw comparisons between Hanako and three other Japanese actresses who were her contemporaries, in order to explore how the concept of a modem Japanese actress (joyu) developed and to define what kind of actress Hanako herself was, and how this affected how she has been viewed in Japan. Hanako played an important role in the introduction of many of the 'theatrical' elements of traditional Japanese theatre to the West, and inspired several influential European and Russian artists who were seeking new directions in their own styles away from the prevalent naturalism of the time. This thesis argues a case that her achievements must be acknowledged in both the West and Japan in order to understand how Japanese theatre had an impact in Europe in the first decades of the twentieth century. Finally, the thesis also shows how complex were the attitudes of the Japanese themselves toward their popular traditional arts, and how this affected intercultural encounters and perceptions during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available