What is kabuki theatre? How is this term used in politics?

Kabuki theatre is classical Japanese dance-drama, with very stylised action, masks and heavy make-up. It dates back to the early 17th century, when it was popular with audiences but frowned upon by the authorities. The government saw it as 'actor prostitution' and in 1629 banned female participation

Today it is looked upon more favourably. Modern translations of the word are often more generic: 'the art of singing and dancing'

In the late 1960s Kabuki theatre a became fashionable in avant garde artistic circles in the UK. David Bowie was an enthusiast, particularly in the period where he worked with mime artist, Lindsey Kemp. He later borrowed heavily from the kabuiki tradition in the creation of Ziggy Stardust.

Political Kabuki

John Bercow, Speaker of the Houses of Commons

The term kabuki has now entered the political lexicon. It is used to describe theatrical behaviour designed to get maximum media attention. 

Worksheets are included in: English Language Teaching Pack  - only £1.99 


  1. I love Kabuki Theater! It's artistic and elegant. I'm actually making it as an inspiration for a short film.


Post a comment