Accessing the power of the play: thoughts on intercultural Shakespeare from examining 'Hamlet' in Japan

Keith, Richard Ian (2022). Accessing the power of the play: thoughts on intercultural Shakespeare from examining 'Hamlet' in Japan. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis explores some key areas of intercultural Shakespeare through Shakespeare translation and performance in Japanese. It argues that some cultures outside the West, such as Japan, may be able to provide access to and even augment the power of Shakespeare’s plays in certain important ways. After detailing some of the history of Shakespeare in Japan, especially the contribution of the Shakespeare scholar, translator and director Tsubouchi Shôyô, the paper examines three areas of Japanese translation and production that may allow for this type of augmentation, especially through productions and translations of Hamlet. These areas are as follows: firstly, the socio-religious fabric of Japanese society; secondly, certain aspects of the Japanese language including the use of kanji characters and furigana gloss; and finally, the often visual nature of Japanese Shakespeare productions. Throughout, metaphor is found to be a useful tool for accessing Japanese Shakespeare and intercultural theatre. Within the central argument that certain parts of Shakespeare’s work may fit better today in other cultures than in the West, some of the key findings include: the distance between Shakespeare’s original work and productions in the present day West is, in certain ways, bigger than the distance between Shakespeare’s original work and present day Japan; certain types of intercultural theatre may be better framed as acts of intercultural communication, especially as a type of conversation; and that native English speakers may actually translate Shakespeare using Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT) in a fashion similar, although clearly not identical, to how non-native speakers of English must translate Shakespeare.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and Creative Studies, The Shakespeare Institute
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PL Languages and literatures of Eastern Asia, Africa, Oceania
P Language and Literature > PR English literature


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