By the mid-1970s, full-play productions (toshi kyogen) of kabuki, which were central to the mission of the Kokuritsu Gekijo (National Theatre) when it opened in 1966, had noticeably declined in number. A more eclectic program approach began to dominate the schedule. Lack of money to put into complex toshi kyogen, lack of willing and able theatre personnel, and restive audiences have been suggested as causes. Yet they do not really explain what amounts to a reversal of policy. Rather, toshi kyogen as "authentic" kabuki at the Kokuritsu Gekijo had symbolized the postwar restoration and revival of Japanese culture as a whole. The history of the toshi kyogen project, in fact, can be traced back to the Occupation years--and to influential people such as Faubion Bowers and Onoe Kikugoro VI. Once an adequate degree of success had been achieved in producing toshi kyogen, the number of such productions quite logically diminished. The Kokuritsu Gekijo now faces a pressing task: to revitalize kabuki by incubating and nurturing new works.
Asian Theatre Journal – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Mar 1, 2002