Kabuki actors learn their skills from their fathers. Ikebana students pay their master for lessons. In contrast, artistic lineage in rakugo is not hereditary, and performers do not acquire their stories and acting skills in acting schools or from their fathers. Newcomers to the rakugo profession start their apprenticeship with a shishō, a master, without paying any compensation. For the rest of both of their lives the shishō is responsible for his deshi’s (disciple) education and accountable for his off-stage behaviour. In return, the shishō expects his deshi’s unquestioning loyalty, obedience and subordination.
The presentation provides a perspective on access to knowledge, knowledge acquisition, learning processes and structures inside Tokyo’s yose theatres, as well as social relations among the stakeholders of the rakugo world. Sarah Stark’s research is based on an analysis of printed interviews, autobiographies as well as one-on-one interviews with Tokyo rakugoka.
Sarah Stark, Ghent University