|Having studied The Takarazuka Revue at Oxford & lived in Japan, this was my first visit|
|Before the show, the all female audience is in pink heaven|
The role sets out a situation and the girls must respond as if they were in that person. There is a practicing ideology of the body in the sense that proper maintenance of the body shows a conformity of normative principles. Students are taught that internal feelings are reflected on the outside (of bodies), permitting people to really know how they feel.
|Sometimes a more European story & style is performed|
|All female audience, mostly housewives|
Takarazuka is a popular Japanese theatre troupe that is all female, Koybashi Ichizo and Yoshiya Nobuko established the Takarazuka theatre, as a place in which affluent girls were sent not only to be trained in the Japanese and Western Arts, but also to reassure parents and their daughters that they were under the constant supervision of academy officials who took responsibility for preventing young women from falling into a ‘decadent lifestyle’ (Koybashi: 1961).
|Pretty pink merchandise|
Stanislavsky recognised that the theatrical conventions include the characters “I” and the inner “you”. This is significant in that the women who enter Takarazuka are assigned their secondary gender, however, their inner “you” can be quite different.
This takes the form of the masculine otokoyaku or feminine musumeyaku. This staging of gender is not arbitrary, each women entering the academy is assigned through their own characteristics. The otokoyaku generally squarer shoulders, a more rectangular jaw and a deeper voice
|It´s not uncommon to see a 'tom-boy' and 'feminine' together|
|mirroring the roles in the performance|
Those that continue, can often live a highly independent life. Many do stay in the dormitory, however, some of the Takarazukas who have a large fan basis, manage to fund their own apartment. This kind of independence is seen as being two-fold. They are able to be independent through the roles that they play on the stage but in addition, they are able continue this over to their lives. The boundaries between “I” and “you” begin to blur. Women in Takarazuka find it difficult to switch between the role of the male back to the female.
|Ginza is still one of the most exclusive and expensive parts of Tokyo|
(In instruction the women are trained by the older Takarazukian’s on how to be ‘more western’ (Longinotto:1993), however, the contextualization of this within Japan is from the song and narrative. So all the bodily movements are part of a different world, a world that is different from the one outside. However the linguistically structural elements remain in Japan) if anyone asks any questions on this)
Body is a form of exegesis where one can ultimately be a part, transform their gender, identity and function in the world through a form of mimesis. By mimicking the male gender, the Takarazuka are able to explore how the inequality could be different. From analysis of these roles, the actors that perform them and the fan base that support them, it is evident that these women are exploring how generally Japanese men could take more time to look to their wives, perhaps be more romantic, attentive (such as the Takarazuka performed male role) and to understand how they could be understood as a person, a more fully developed 'self', as oppose to the two dimensional persona of a ‘good wife, wise mother’.
A trailer for Kim Longinotto`s Dream Girls (excellent documentary on Takarazuka) can be found here