This past summer, London and Rome (and a few other cities?) saw a tour of a Grand Kabuki performance of Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura, one of the most famous and popular plays in the kabuki repertoire.
Nakamura Shibajaku VII played Shizuka Gozen, the female lead.
The transformation with makeup and costume from someone who could easily pass for a salaryman into the young, beautiful Shizuka is really something.
Apparently, the embed link doesn’t want to work, so here’s a boring normal link: The Guardian: Nakamura Shibajaku VII as Shizuka Gozen
Thanks to the Guardian for producing and providing this video, and to Toshidama Gallery for pointing it out.
I do wish that the Guardian (and other Western media) wouldn’t apply certain terms, or get involved in certain discussions; there’s no need to use the word “drag” here, and I really don’t understand what they were talking about in the video in that one bit where they mentioned something about “heterosexual homosexuals.” … It’s really just another example of Orientalism or double-standards. When Western actors (e.g. Shakespearean actors) play cross-cast roles on stage, there’s nothing to it. But when it’s a traditional element of an Eastern drama form, such as kabuki, suddenly it’s bizarre and weird, exotic and unusual. A noble and beautiful tradition, really the Japanese equivalent of Shakespeare in many ways, is reduced to being compared to a drag show; and the sexuality of the actors is raised as a topic of discussion. Well, we’re getting there, slowly but surely. It’s interesting to see sometimes a reminder of just how far we have to go..