What does Kabuki mean? How is this term used in politics?

Kabuki theatre is a stylized Japanese dance-drama tradition that dates back to the early 17th century . It is characterised by melodramatic plot lines, masks and heavy make-up. Shouting at other actors is encouraged.

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

More recently,  Kabuki has become a synonym for theatrical. It is often used to describe politicians suspected of acting insincerely to please their supporters and/or get maximum media attention.


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


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