Bunraku Essay

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“The art of Bunraku lies in achieving perfect synchronization of these three elements-puppets, chanter and shamisen- for intense dramatic effect.” [1] Bunraku puppetry is an interesting and complex form of theatre which is becoming more popular as it delves into different cultures. The origin of Bunraku and the role of each of the members in a Bunraku performance are needed to investigate how the puppets, puppeteers, narrator and musicians interrelate to create an intricate form of puppetry. To help us gain an understanding of how all these different factors make up a Bunraku puppetry performance, we need to look at the origin of Bunraku and the significance this had in the formation of the puppets, puppeteers, musicians and narrators. However, to understand how these components are used in a Chikamatsu Bunraku performance, we must understand how and where this particular playwright created and compiled his themes for his plays. Chikamatsu Monzaemon grew up in a Samurai family and became closely connected to Takemoto Gidayu, a puppeteer, and moved near his theatre. Monzaemon wrote a number of Kabuki plays, however then decided to write plays specifically for characters. He had two genres of plays, domestic tragedies and historical romances. Most of his works were based on real incidents, for example, double suicides of lovers. The Love Suicides at Sonezaki were actually based on a real incident of a double love suicide. Monzaemon’s themes include loyalty, vengeance, filial piety, religious miracles and love. “Chikamatsu’s works are distinct or adding human elements…Confucian concepts of the importance of loyalty over personal feelings and the tragedy that arise when one blindly follows the precepts.”[2] Bunraku theatre was used to convey these certain themes, it was also Japan’s most famous and important form of puppetry. Bunraku was first established in Japan,

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