[A] Japanese theatre is always built with two broad passages, called Hanamichi (or flower-paths), leading through the audience to the stage, 9 up which you can watch a Daimio and his gorgeous retinue sweep on his royal way to visit perhaps another Daimio whose house is represented on the stage. This is very dramatic, and greatly forwards the author’s scheme of bringing you into touch with the stage. But we in our Western theatres need not trouble ourselves with all this, for we frame our scenes in a vulgar gilt frame; we hem them in and cut them off from the rest of the house. When we go to a theatre here, we go to view a picture hung up on a wall, and generally a very foolish inartistic picture it is too. And even taking our stage from the point of view of a picture, it is wrong, for in a work of art the frame should never have an independent value as an achievement, but be subordinate to, and part of, the whole. All idea of framing the stage must be done away with; else we are in danger of going to the other extreme, as some artists have done, and cause our picture to overlap and spread itself upon the frame. An artist in a realistic mood has been known, when painting a picture of the seaside, to so crave after texture as to sprinkle sand upon the foreground, and becoming more and more enthusiastic he has at last ended in an exuberance of realism by clapping some real shells on to the frame and gilding them over. Thus the picture appeared to pour out on to its frame. This is all very terrible and inartistic; yet it is but an instance of the kind of mistake that we let ourselves in for by the ridiculous method of stage-setting which we practise. [8-9]

Related material


Menpes, Dorothy. Japan: A Record in Colour. London: Adam & Charles Black, 1901. Internet Archive version of a copy in the University of California Libraries. Web. 14 July 2019.

Created 14 July 2019