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 and is sometimes translated as 'the art of singing and dancing'

The kabuki approach became fashionable in avant garde circles in the late 1960s. David Bowie was an enthusiast and 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 lexion. It is used to describe theatrical behaviour designed to get maximum media attention. Recent scenes in the UK parliament come to mind, as do some of the interventions during the Supreme Court Confirmation Hearing for Brett Kavanaugh.

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  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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