It’s intermission at the kabuki show. We just saw ‘Tied to a Pole,’ in which two rascally servants contrive ingenious ways to drink the master’s sake while tied to a pole or with their hands behind their back.

The use of bondage as a theme in a play which the program notes decribed both as stemming from an older theatrical tradition than kabuki per se and as having premiered in 1914 1916 was striking, to me.

The play provided a kind of acrobatic astonishment, as the actors traded off performing dances of increasing apparent complexity and difficulty as they mimed drinking sake while tied up.

I was also struck by the use of physical bondage as a comedic device which literally makes visible the feudal bonds of master and servant. By employing a visible metaphor for the relationship, the play provides an entertaining model for its’ intended audience. It shows how to resppnd with astonishing grace to the demands of heirarchy while simultaneously accomplishing the personal and pleasurable goal of getting drunk on the master’s sake.

Finally, at one point, I was surprised when the characters employed ‘rock, scissors, paper’ to settle a difference of opinion. Where did the game originate? How long has it been around?