Date Thesis Awarded

4-2014

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

Global Studies

Advisor

Michael Cronin

Committee Member

Tomoko Hamada Connolly

Committee Member

Nancy Gray

Abstract

This thesis examines the performance of gender at the Takarazuka Revue, a Japanese all-female theater troupe, in two ways: first by exploring the theater’s performance mode, in which female actresses play both male and female characters, and secondly by analyzing the narrative content of the Revue’s most popular theatrical productions. The Revue’s musicals, which focus intensely on fantasy versions of masculinity, femininity, and heterosexual romance, currently draw up to 2.5 million viewers per year, the vast majority of whom are married women. In investigating the Takarazuka Revue’s significance to its fans and performers, I examine the theater’s onstage techniques for depicting male and female characters, and identify the ways in which Takarazuka’s performance mode also shapes its cultural influence. I also examine the themes of gender and sexuality that are woven into the narratives of two of its signature productions, The Rose of Versailles (Berusaiyu no Bara) and Elisabeth (Erizabēto), exploring the ways in which these stories are transformed and enhanced by Takarazuka’s unique performance mode. In particular, the ways in which their protagonists bend both the exterior gender boundaries of the everyday world and the interior boundaries of the theater itself demonstrates the potential of these works for creating temporary spaces of gender and sexual exploration for their audience. In doing so, I clarify the relevance of the stage itself to the theater's contemporary social significance, and demonstrate the importance of examining the content of its productions when attempting to understand the theater’s broader relationship with gender politics.

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