onnagata

Definition

Theater

  • In the kabuki theater of Japan, a male actor who playsfemale roles. When boys and women were banned from performing in the17th century, female roles began to be played by men with shaved foreheads.Until quite recently, the actors were expected to conduct themselvesin a feminine manner even when they were not on stage.

    The onnagata actor applies white make-up to the facebefore drawing false eyebrows and adding rouge to the mouth and thecorners of the eyes. The role of a married woman is played with blackenedteeth and no eyebrows. see also female impersonator.

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