The Takarazuka´s Adaptation Of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

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The Takarazuka Revue is an all female theatre troupe based out of Japan that is coming close to its 100th year of existence. The company is characterized by its odd mixture of Eastern and Western Productions, it’s extravagantly decadent costumes, and it’s leading ladies — otokoyaku or slim, androgynously handsome, unusually tall, young women who play the male roles. While the Takarazuka Revue supposedly works to subvert gender roles in its performances, unlike its historical Shakespearian cross-dressing counterparts, the company still adheres to patriarchal norms off-stage, even more so than many current counterparts. This strange dichotomy of subversive onstage and patriarchal off-stage is shown quite clearly in the Takarazuka Revue’s 1999 Production of Epiphany, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth …show more content…
To start with, historically, “In terms of theatrical background, it is a tradition that boy actors played women’s roles in Shakespeare’s time. Women had little or no part in the English theatrical history before the restoration of King Charles II in 1660, when it became possible for women to pursue a theatrical career”(Liu 79). Disallowing women from the stage was the rule for a very long time almost worldwide. So despite any subversive elements of cross-dressing in Shakespeare’s stories like the Viola/Cesario situation in Twelfth Night, historically it would have been allayed by the fact of being recursive cross-dressing which strays more into the comedic side of having a man playing a woman pretending to be man. This cultural baggage makes doing a production of a Shakespearian play with an all female cast even more recursive in that it then becomes a woman who is trained to play a man, who is, in the plot, playing a woman cross-dressing as a man who is trained to play a

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