Places, Images, Times & Transformations


Convention in kabuki theater in which the actor makes a dramatic facial expression while adopting a stylized pose, then holds the pose for an extended period. It is perhaps the most crowd-pleasing movement during a kabuki play. In mie, the actor, in an emotional high point of the play, freezes in a certain position for a length of time, often for a very long time. He distorts his face and may even cross his eyes, and he holds this dramatic pose while the tsuke (wooden block played with two hard wooden sticks) player slowly pounds out three beats. This is the pose that wood-block prints (ukiyo-e) of famous actors most frequently portray. The mie pose represents that point where the conflict between inner passions and outward behavior can no longer be maintained and the character is about to explode with passion, anger, madness, or violence. So ingrained is this pose in Japanese performance traditions that it is reproduced (in a less mannered form) in Japanese film, manga (comic books), and anime (cartoons). (from What is Kabuki. 1996, Richard Hooker;

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