“Welding the Unweldable”: Vsevolod Meyerhold’s Refraction of Japanese Theatre

  • Min Tian
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Theatre and Performance History book series (PSTPH)


This chapter demonstrates that what was truly decisive for V. E. Meyerhold after having seen (instead of reading or imagining) a Kabuki performance had, after all, nothing to do with the authenticity of the “Kabuki” performance he saw, or with the veracity of his understanding of Kabuki theatre, but had everything to do with his perception of such a performance as a confirmation of the ideas that had been fermenting in his mind. Thus, the “new light” shed by his direct experience of the “Kabuki” theatre he witnessed was not predicated on the actual authenticity of the gazed, but rather, on the preconditioned desire of the gaze. Meyerhold’s perception of Kabuki theatre and Japanese theatre in general must be understood in the context of his theory and practice. His ahistorical and practical approach to theatrical traditions—“welding the unweldable”—necessitates the refraction, and thereby, the displacement and re-placement, of the essence of those traditions out of their historical-social contexts, as exemplified in his use of Japanese and Chinese theatre.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Min Tian
    • 1
  1. 1.University of IowaIowa CityUSA

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