Kabuki do’s and don’ts

Do: Go see kabuki

Don’t: Expect to enjoy it. It is purely for your edification, not your enjoyment (though the costumes are nice)

Do: Appreciate the onnagata’s kimono in kabuki

Don’t: Look at ”her” face too closely

Do- Notice the expert viewers shouting out set phrases at climatic moments

Don’t- Try and join in. (It would be like going to the football terraces for the first time and trying to start a new chant)

Do- Compare kabuki to Shakespeare when your Japanese hosts ask your opinion.

Don’t- Let on that you actually mean you don’t like either

Do- Feel free to nod off (the Japanese never seem to be embarrased about sleeping)

Don’t- Snore, dribble or lean on your neighbour’s shoulder (this isn’t the last train back on a Friday night!)

Do- Take the English language audio commentary box

Don’t- Expect it to explain what is going on. Like going to the ballet, you are already supposed to know the story before you arrive.

Do say- ’The onnagata’s performance is so amazing I can see why they say even a real woman couldn’t do a better performance’

Don’t say- ‘…at screaching and wailing like a drunk transvestite trying to get everyone’s attention in a Soho bar’

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