Accepted paper:

Performer-Audience Connection in Intimate kagura Performances Revisited


Irit Averbuch (Tel-Aviv University)

Paper short abstract:

In the context of kagura performances we find the most intriguing relations between performers and audiences. In the context of an intimate performance of a small village home, these are especially complex. This paper examines several kagura examples to explore these identities and connections.

Paper long abstract:

Among the traditional so-called Japanese "Folk Performing Arts" (minzoku geinô), kagura is considered to be the veteran genre, and it still preserves, in all its varieties and forms, its ritualistic essence and function. It is in the context of the various kagura performances that we find the most complex and intriguing relations between performers and audiences. In kagura performances, it is often the case when the performers, even in their guises as visiting gods, physically touch their audiences in a variety of manners. Also, in the context of an intimate performance of a small village shrine or home, where the performers are family members or familiar neighbors of the viewing audiences, these connections create complex levels of reflexive identities: of gender, of divine or of human identities, on both local and cosmological levels. It also infuses the patterns of mutual conduct and action with pregnant meanings. The proposed paper will explore these complexities as they unfold in four kagura performances from Miyazaki Prefecture (Takachiho Kagura), Aichi Prefecture (Hanamatsuri, Tsuki), Nagano Prefecture (Shimotsuki-sai at Shimoguri), and Iwate Prefecture (Hayachine Take Kagura). Other examples (e.g., from Mitsukuri Kagura of Yamaguchi Prefecture, Buzen Kagura of Oita Prefecture and Shiiba Kagura of Miyazaki Prefecture) will also be considered. The paper will discuss the central role of the audience in creating a performance, in this case, a ritual performance, especially in an intimate context of a small community. It will question the identities of performer and audience in their reciprocal roles, and will muse about the meaning of defined identity and action in the flow of blurred conceptual boundaries.

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