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Sewamono (世話物) is a genre of contemporary setting plays in Japanese traditional theatre. The term applies to both bunraku and kabuki. The genre is in contrast to "period setting plays" or jidaimono. Though the distinction between "historical" and "contemporary" is not exact, and there are also plays that do not fit either category.[1]

Sewamono plays are naturalistic and set in contemporary normal environments rather the historical and samurai plays typical of the bombastic aragoto style.[2] In the conflicted lovers genre, such as The Love Suicides at Sonezaki, conflict between emotions (ninjo) and social pressure (giri) form the motor of the plot.[3] The engirimono, cut-knot-thing meaning “drama of cutting the lovers' knot" such as Namiki Gohei's Godairiki Koi no Fujime is a subcategory of sewamono.[4]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Earl Roy Miner, Hiroko Odagiri, Robert E. Morrell The Princeton Companion to Classical Japanese Literature 1988- Page 72 "The distinction between period pieces or jidaimono and contemporary pieces or sewamono is not exact, any more than is the Elizabethan distinction in drama between tragedy and history. There were also some plays that do not fit either ..."
  2. ^ John Gassner, Edward Quinn The Reader's Encyclopedia of World Drama - Page 758 2002 "Sewamono is a branch of the kabuki tree diametrically opposed to the quasihistorical plays of war, violence, and bombast acted in the aragoto style. With their highly advanced naturalism. sewamono plays are set in contemporary rather ..."
  3. ^ Shūichi Katō, Don Sanderson A History of Japanese Literature: From the Man'yōshū to Modern Times 1997 - Page 149 "But whether these should properly be called sewamono is a matter of definition. In the typical plot the couple's feelings (ninjo) come into conflict with some social obligation or pressure (giri). This latter may involve a rival for the favours of the ..."
  4. ^ Keiko I. McDonald Japanese Classical Theater in Films -1994 Page 104 "Actually, this subclass sewamono is called an engirimono play, which may be rendered “drama of cutting the lovers' knot." The definitive work is usually taken to be Gohei Namiki's Godairiki Koi no Fujime (Lovers' pledge: Gengobei and ..."