The Original Japanese : the First Japanese Performers on the Czech Stages

Authors

ROZWALKA Zuzana

Year of publication 2019
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Citation
Description It has been almost 100 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Czech (then Czechoslovakia) Republic and Japan. But the informal contacts with Japan and its people started much earlier. Over the most of the 19th century, the image of Japan was still very blurred. The first contacts with Japan are usually explored within the filed of state diplomacy or the influence of Japanese fine arts. But the first contacts with Japanese people in the Czech lands were through the stage. In my doctoral research, I am exploring Czech contacts with Japanese theatre and performance artists from the second half of the 19th century until the end of World War II. The appearance of Kawakami Otojiro (1864-1911) and his wife Sadayakko (1871-1946) at the Paris Exposition in the 1900 is usually considered initial moment in the encounter of Western and Japanese theatre and as such, became a topic of scientific debates and research. However, there were many performance artists who entertained the West long time before them and some of them performed also in the Czech lands. Acrobats, jugglers, dancers, and magicians--performers of various entertainment genres called misemono in Japanese were the first to go abroad and quench the Western thirst for the mysterious Japan. The impact of these performers was for long time neglected due to the long surviving concept of low and high culture. In my presentation, I will examine the primary sources concerning the performances of Japanese artists within territory of the Czech lands and their reception in the newspapers. The perception of the performances and the performers is particularly interesting, since the first performance took place as far back as in 1867 and the performers were probably the first Japanese to enter the Czech lands.
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