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Behind the PSU Kabuki Curtain: Makeup, Costuming, and Dance Training

A scene from the 2010 production of The Sardine Seller’s Net of Love at Willamette University directed by Professor Kominz.

Have you ever wondered what goes into putting on a kabuki production? Watch Portland State University prepare for its mainstage kabuki production of The Sardine Seller’s Net of Love, which runs from May 25-28 at Lincoln Performance Hall.

Come behind the scenes to watch a student actor transform into a courtesan. Professor Laurence Kominz, director of the production, will explain as an actor applies stage makeup and gets dressed in costume. Toshimi Tanaka, a professional kimono dresser, will dress the actor in an 18th century style hikizuri (trailing) kimono and wig.

Kabuki at PSU, 2012. Photo by Mel Huffman.

Next, choreographer Takako Hara will teach the performers a courtesan dance, which will be part of the production of the romantic comedy. She began her study of Buyo, Japanese traditional dance, at the age of 2 in Osaka.

The event will end with a Q&A session led by Dr. Kominz, whose writing and research specialty is Japanese drama and most recent book is Mishima on Stage: The Black Lizard and Other Plays. The Sardine Seller’s Net of Love, set in Kyoto in 1700, is the most popular kabuki play written by the brilliant and multi-talented Yukio Mishima. It tells the story of the improbable love between a humble sardine seller and the most glamorous courtesan in Kyoto.



The Pavilion Gallery is used for exhibitions and special events. Architectural features include shoji (translucent paper panels) and verandas that connote the integration of house and garden. The overlook offers a spectacular view of Mt. Hood to the east.