Gender performance and the rise of actresses in traditional Asian theatre

Anita Singh, Maki Isaka, Siyuan Liu, Kathy Foley, Jennifer Goodlander, Ashley Robertson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Modernity significantly complicated gender performance in Asia. While women usually performed together with men in ancient times, as evident in Indian kutiyattam or the Chinese Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) zaju, actresses were often banned from the stage just as popular theatrical forms such as kathakali, kabuki and jingju emerged in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Thus, the modern passages that opened to actresses (as in Chinese theatre) or largely remain blocked (kathakali and Japanese theatre) on the professional stage together with actors offer fascinating insights into the changes and resistance in gender performance. This ideology of gender performance is further complicated by issues of impersonation and cross-gender representation as well as class, narrative and genres, as demonstrated in the following sections on India, China, Japan and Southeast Asia (with a case study on female dalang [puppet master] in Java and Bali).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Asian Theatre
PublisherTaylor and Francis Inc.
Pages417-420, 433-436
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781317278856
ISBN (Print)9780415821551
StatePublished - Feb 4 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 selection and editorial material, Siyuan Liu; individual chapters, the contributors. All rights reserved.


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