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Shively provides the cultural background of the story, focusing on the prostitutes of Osaka's "Gay Quarter." Shively also discusses the cultural role of the theater in Chikamatsu's Japan. This essay originally contained ideographic characters, which have been silently removed for this reprinting.
Although only some 6 per cent of the noh plays in the modern repertoire are shura plays, pieces that feature the ghosts of suffering warriors, these works are synonymous with ‘warrior noh’, and as a group they form one of the five main categories of plays. Prior studies have looked to the theoretical writings of noh's founder, Zeami (d. 1443), to explain why shura plays, though few in number, have come to represent the genre of warrior plays. However, this article contends that the theories of the actor and playwright Konparu Zenpō (1454–1532?) offer more persuasive reasons why shura plays became equated with warrior noh. The article contrasts Zenpō's and Zeami's different definitions of the warrior archetype called the ‘marital mode’ ( guntai ). It then considers performance practices in the sixteenth century, specifically the ritual use of shura plays, to discern factors that impinged on their performance and composition. Finally, it places Zenpō's ideas on shura noh and the performance of these plays within a brief survey of late medieval theoretical writings on noh
Examining the opening passage of Sonezaki shinju (Love suicides at Sonezaki, 1703), Chikamatsu Monsaemon's first contemporary-life play for the puppet theater (joruri), issues related to the development of and historical context for joruri are explored. Ohatsu, the heroine's pilgrimage, commonly referred to as the Kannon-meguri is discussed and how the Kannon-mejuri in Chikamatsu's play was performed thus revealing the importance of the passage for the understanding the play as a whole.
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