A stunning variation of theatrical art is the Japanese tradition of Kabuki. Beautiful costumes, elaborate staging, and a through the ages grown stylization of moving and storytelling.
One of the stars is Bando Tamasaburo. He is an onnagata-actor, that means he plays all the female roles. On these pictures he was photographed by Kishin Shinoyama.
The origin of Kabuki was Okuni Kabuki, and was created by a woman, and played by women. This was declared unseemly by the shogunate (the shogun-administration). And of course mixed performances were considered as even worse. In the end the shogunate decided, that Kabuki should only be played by men.
It were the same arguments as in Elizabethan theatre. Not only would it be inappropriate for women to be on stage, but women can't even play female roles as well as men, because they don't have the psychological understanding, the strength and the art-skills.
Well... we can be happy and lucky to be living in times of expanding equal rights!
But still Kabuki is a stunning and beautiful experience of refine traditional theatre.
Pictures via the marvelous Planet of Fabulon.