Zoe Kincaid Penlington

American writer

Zoe Kincaid Penlington (1878-03-02 – 1944-03-28) was a Canadian-born journalist and drama critic based in Tokyo from 1908 to 1941. She was the author of Kabuki: The Popular Stage in Japan (1925), the first English-language study of kabuki.

Zoe Kincaid (later Penlington) in 1902


  • "The Japanese theatre art differs so widely from anything to be seen in Western countries that it might as well belong to the people of Mars or Saturn, so far removed is it from the ordinary affairs of life as known and experienced in the West. But just because the Eastern hemisphere has founded its theatres on opposite principles from those of Europe, there is all the more reason why this uncharted field of human endeavour should become familiar to our unaccustomed ears and eyes."
  • "The long procession of priests in picturesque robes, and the group of feudal lords in their large ceremonial court costumes of many colors, made a memorable stage picture, and one, indeed, that the most extravagant of motion picture scenes might well emulate."
  • "Kabuki is most distinguished when it deals with the weird and grotesque, and the American visitor may not be at all surprised if among the insubstantial stage creations of the Japanese he becomes acquainted with the spirit of a cherry tree, or the transformation of a maid into a fox or a lion."
  • "Throughout the realm, the Hina Matsuri will be observed in the homes of rich and poor alike when a series of shelves, one rising above the other, and covered with a red cloth will be placed in the best room of the dwelling. Here the treasured dolls and their furniture will be displayed for one day only."
  • "The western observer no doubt upon first impression may regard it as a hardchip that the girls of a family should do no more than gaze upon the beautiful dolls and be satisfied, and that these bright creatures of silk, embroidery and brocade from the hands of the skilled craftsmen are not to be touched, only to be admired at a distance. In brief, they are education, and so become removed from the sphere of ordinary playthings."
  • "In the No the world of the real is left behind and the audience enters into a land of imagination; the face of the actor would clash with the non-realistic material of the play and the treatment."
  • " A more disciplined stage than that of the Imperial can hardly be duplicated in any of the world's theater centers. The present repertory company has played together since the founding of the theater, and many of the younger actors have been associated with it since childhood."

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