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CFP: Tradition and Innovation in Japanese Theatre


The Met Open Access Collection. H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929

Call for Papers

Tradition and Innovation in Japanese Theatre: A Conference in Honor of Leonard C. Pronko

April 2, 2022 (Hybrid: live/zoom)


PROPOSAL DEADLINE: December 20, 2021

This full-day conference features scholarly panels, a lecture/demonstration of onnagata training by members of the Fujima Kansuma Kai, a roundtable with senior scholars, and a fully staged, English language production of Gohiki Kanjinchō (The Subscription List), one of kabuki’s most beloved plays. The conference will take place at Pomona College, Claremont, CA.

Leonard Cabell Pronko (1927-2019) was a pioneer in the creation of intercultural performance and one of America’s most effective proponents of kabuki theatre. During his 57 years teaching at Pomona College, he directed over 40 traditional kabuki and kabuki-inspired plays. Among his many distinctions was the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Third Degree, awarded by the Japanese government.

To honor Professor Pronko’s lifelong commitment to mentoring students, we especially welcome proposals from younger scholars, graduate students and others without access to financial support. To further this goal, we are offering bursaries/stipends to those whose proposals are accepted and who may need some financial aid to attend in person. The amount offered will depend on the number of panelists needing aid; it is unlikely to cover all expenses. However, the conference sponsors will provide all meals (a light breakfast, lunch and dinner) for all panelists/participants. Assuming circumstances relating to the pandemic allow it, all participants will have the option to attend either in person or via zoom.

Please submit a 250 word abstract for a 20 minute paper on any aspect and any period of Japanese theatre or performance. Include your name, email, and academic status/affiliation. Please state if you are applying for a bursary/stipend. Send abstracts and all required information to csorgenfrei2@aol.com.


The deadline for abstract submissions is Dec. 20, 2021; selected panelists will be notified by Jan. 1, 2022.

Confirmed participants include panel moderators J. Thomas Rimer, Stanleigh Jones, and Carol Fisher Sorgenfrei, members of the Fujima Kansuma School of Japanese Dance, and Mark Diaz, Professor Pronko’s last kabuki student, who is also directing and performing in the evening performance.

All in-person participants and audience members will be required to conform to those Covid protocols established by Pomona College that are in force at that time.

This conference is sponsored by The Pomona College Theatre Department, the Pacific Basin Institute and the Pomona College Department of Asian Languages and Literatures. A video record of the event will become a permanent part of the Pasic Basin Institute’s Archives.

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