hikinuki


   Both Noh and kabuki theater often stress the transformation of major characters; these transformations can be in emotion or status, or characters can reveal their true or inner selves (in kabuki, this latter transformation is called jitsu wa, or "in reality"). These transformations are visual and involve changing masks, make-up, clothes, or wigs. Because the transformations are visible, they take place offstage in Noh theater; but the art of kabuki is the art of spectacle and a number of dazzling special effects have been developed to visually transform a character onstage in front of the audience.   The most famous of the transformation techniques involve changing costume onstage, so that a character suddenly, before the eyes of the audience, is wearing an entirely different and more colorful kimono; a single actor can go through half a dozen such on-stage costume changes in the course of a single play. Somehow actors need to change from one kimono to another without physically removing it themselves. One of the most spectacular ways of changing kimonos is hikinuki, or "pulling out." In hikinuki , a stage assistant gradually removes eight threads holding the outer kimono fastened to a hidden inner kimono; the stage assistant does this while the actor is dancing. When the final thread is pulled, the stage assistant quickly pulls away the two halves of the outer kimono and in a split second the actor appears in an entirely different costume.