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EARLY ASIAN THEATRE!
Transcript of EARLY ASIAN THEATRE!
Drama of India
Drama of Japan
Asian Theatre today
5 Very Important Points!
The earliest recorded theatrical activities in Japan are the count entertainments of the Heian period (A.D. 794-1195). These entertainments were influenced by Chinese models, but that is the only link- a very remote one- between the two traditions. Later, similar kinds of performances formed part of annual Shinto and Buddhist ceremonies. These were usually of a popular nature and included juggling, skits, dancing, and the like. The first great period in Japanese theatre occurred in the fourteenth century, not long after similar developments in China. The sudden and remarkable development of no, one of the three important forms of traditional Japanese theatre-came about when popular stage traditions were combined with serious scholarly pursuits. Despite similarities in theatrical developments, however, there was no direct connection between Japan and China at this time, and there are significant differences in how theatre emerged in the two cultures. In the Yuan period the Chinese upper classes often disdained theatre, but well-known, powerful people- in both politics and the arts-shaped Japanese no. For this reason, the development of no is far better documented than the development of Yuan drama.
Although Noh can be traced back to as early as the eleventh century, it however developed into its present form during the 14th and 15th centuries under the leadership of the distinguished performer-playwrights Kannami Kiyotsugu (1333-1384) and his son Zeami Motokiyo[1363-1443). Zeami, in particular, wrote numerous plays which are still performed in today’s classical repertory of some 250 plays. He also wrote a number of once secret works which explain the aesthetic principles governing noh and give details on how the art should be composed, acted, directed, taught, and produced. Zeami's main rule of aesthetics was the [hana] or 'flower,' an abstraction based on the effect to be felt between actor and audience when a perfect balance of performance and reception has been achieved, a kind of mystic suspense.
noh flourished during Zeami’s time under the patronage of the military shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358-1408).
Later during the Edo period (1603-1868), noh became the official performance art of the military government. Feudal military lords throughout the country supported their own troupes and many studied and performed the art themselves.With the societal reforms of the Meiji period (1868-1912), noh lost its governmental patronage and was left to fend for itself. Although it nearly died out, enough performers regrouped, found private sponsors, and began teaching the art to amateurs so that it slowly began to flourish again. Today, like many classical performance forms throughout the world, noh cannot be described as a popular art among the average Japanese. Yet its supporters are enthusiastic and its professional performers are highly trained and extremely busy performing and teaching throughout the country. There are today approximately 1,500 professional performers who make their living largely through performing and teaching noh.
History of Noh!
Types of plays preformed!
The types of plays being preformed is “noh”. The classical Japanese performance form replete with Buddhist sensitivities which combines elements of dance, drama, music and poetry into one highly aesthetic stage art is the oldest surviving form of Japanese theatre and began probably as early as the eleventh century. However, most of the repertories, the plays that are performed today, are works that were written in the fifteenth or early sixteenth century. The stories in the drama can be traced back in some cases to the 8th century, and even before that on the Asian mainland. There are five categories of noh plays. In order, these feature gods kami waki noh or kami noh, warriors shura Shuramono or bushi noh , beautiful women katsura, miscellaneous (notably mad-women or present-time) figures, and supernatural beings like demons kiri. During the Edo period, a full day’s program consisted of the ritual piece Okina-Sanbaso followed by one play from each category in the above order. One Kyogen play would be presented between each noh. Of the five categories, the women plays are the slowest in tempo but the most poetic, and of the highest level in expressing yugen, an aesthetic term suggesting quiet elegance and grace, and subtle and fleeting beauty.
All performers in Noh are male.
• Shite - the leading character. Depending on the play, the shite may act as a holy old man, a deity, a demon, a spirit or a living man. His movements express various moods.
• Waki - the supporting actor. The waki plays roles such as a priest, monk or samurai. In contrast to the shite, the waki always portrays living people.
• Hayashi - the musicians. Four musicians provide accompaniment for the performance with a flute (fue), shoulder drum (kotsuzumi), hip drum (otsuzumi) and stick drum (taiko).
• Jiutai - the chorus. The chorus sits to the left of the stage and assists the shite in the narration of the story.
• Koken - stage attendants. Dressed in black, the stage attendants are not part of the play but assist the performers in various ways, such as handing them props.
The main character of a noh play iwhich is the shite (pronounced sh’tay) who sometimes appears with one or more companion characters called tsure. In many plays, the shite appears in the first half as an ordinary person, departs, then appears in the second half in his true form as the ghost of famous person of long ago. The former is called the maejite and the latter, the nochijite. They are traditionally performed by the same actor. The secondary actor, the waki, is often a traveling priest whose questioning of the main character is important in developing the story line. He also often appears with companion waki-tsure. An interlude actor called ai or ai-kyogen also often appears as a local person who gives further background to the waki, and thus to the audience, in order to understand the situation of the shite.
Costumes in Noh are elaborately made with gorgeously dyed silk and intricate embroidery. These costumes reveal the type of character being portrayed and follow prescribed conventions as to their use. Still, there is much variety. The detail of design, the color combinations, the richness of texture, and the strength of form give noh its visual impact. All characters, whether rich or poor, young or old, male or female, are beautifully costumed. The costuming process is complex. Rather than the actor putting on his own costume, two or three costumers are needed to sculpt the costume on the actor. The main part of the stage used in noh is a curtain-less square with a bridgeway leading to it from backstage. At the end of the bridgeway there is a hanging curtain which swings up and back allowing the characters to enter and exit. Stages were traditionally outside and covered with a long sloping roof. From the late 19th century, they have been mainly moved indoors. These inside stages are open on two sides in a kind of semi-theatre-in-the-round. There is no attempt at designing a realistic stage set. Rather, only symbolic stage properties are used. The pine tree painted on the back wall of the stage represents the tree through which noh was, by legend, passed down from heaven to mankind. In Japanese culture, the evergreen pine has come to be an important symbol of longevity and unchanging steadfastness.
While noh may be compared with kutiyattam reflecting the oriental aesthetic principle that regards drama as a blend of poetry, music, dance and mime, the similarity to Greek theatre may also be pointed out. That is to say, there are masks, there's a chorus, and there are dancers. The masks - perhaps the most striking feature of the noh plays - may have originally been intended to provide realism, to make the actor who is male look like a beautiful woman or an old man look like a young man, or a young man look like an old man. And in this sense they are more realistic. But with time the masks became more schematized, more abstract, and stopped looking like particular people, or even looking like people we might see normally; they became embodiments of certain qualities, beauty or ugliness or whatever.Masks are very important in the Noh and are worn only by the main character. The mask helps to raise the action out of the ordinary, to freeze it in time. For the Noh actor the mask of a particular character has almost a magic power. Before putting it on he will look at it until he feels the emotion absorbed within himself. When he puts on the mask, his individuality recedes and he is nothing but the emotion to be depicted.
Classical Indian Theater
Skits, shadow and puppet plays, circus, satires, and storytelling thrived during the Tang Dynasty (618–907 c.e.).
Emperor Minghuang established the Pear Orchard Conservatory during the Tang Period for training actors and performers.
“Tile Districts” (wazi) were amusement centers that evolved in Northern China during the Song Dynasty (960–1279).
Zaju—shows with dramatic sketches accompanied by music, dancing, and comedy were popular in Tile Districts.
Nanxi—shows that used folk music and character types were popular in Southern China.
Theater during the Tang and Song Dynasties
The Chinese word xi means both “play” and “game,” to emphasize that performances in China are a combination of performance forms.
Syntheses of dance, music, and poetry appeared after Yi Shun’s reign (2300–2205 b.c.e.).
Shamanistic and court rituals using dance and music appeared during the Shang Dynasty (1760–1066 b.c.e.).
Origins of Chinese Theater
• Drama flourished during the Yuan Dynasty (1234–1368) under Mongol occupation.
• Guan Hanquing (ca.1245–ca.1322) was the most popular and prolific Yuan playwright.
• Yuan writers abandoned Confucian teachings and style and used common language for dramas; “Yuan zaju” differs from Northern zaju in that it treats a range of historical, legendary, and modern subjects.
• Yuan zaju plays are four acts long with shorter acts (xiezi) to enrich the plot, and twenty songs sung by the main character.
• Yuan zaju plays maintain a Confucian element by ending with justice.
• Drama flourished during this period because Chinese scholars, excluded from government, turned to other writing forms for work.
Yuan Drama: Zaju
• Men and women could act and appear in either gender’s role.
• Costumes were colorful and ornate with detailed makeup.
• Stages consisted of a bare tile floor with entrances on either side of a decorative wall-painting in the rear. There was no formal scenery and few props.
• The pipa—a lute-like instrument—played a role in the musical component.
• Yuan zaju was performed for all social classes.
Actors and Stage
• Nanxi plays are longer than zaju plays, containing fifty or more acts with their own titles. Songs are performed by multiple characters and are accompanied by a bamboo flute.
The Rise of Nanxi
• Aryans settled India in 1500 b.c.e. and created a Vedic civilization centralized around the Vedas are the founding texts of Hinduism.
• Classical Indian drama is based on the Aryan caste system, in which Indian society was divided into a hierarchy of four groups: priests, warriors and rulers, traders and merchants, workers and peasants.
• Though the earliest surviving Indian plays date from 100 c.e., Indian theater may have been based on Vedic rituals.
• The Mahabharata makes references to performers (nata), though it is not known if these included actors.
• Bharata Muni (300 b.c.e.–200 c.e.) wrote the treatise Natyasastra (Art of Theater), which described the nature and purpose of dramatic performance.
Origins of Indian Theater
• In the Natyasastra (Art of Theater), Bharata writes that educated and noble men are the ideal spectators for theatrical performances, though all four castes attended and sat separately.
• Bharata focuses in particular on a rectangular building measuring 96x48 feet in his treatise’s chapter on three forms of playhouses.
• This rectangular building mimicked a cave in order to resonate actors’ voices.
• Playhouse interiors were divided into a seating area (prekshagriha), and a back section containing a dressing room/ backstage (nepathya) and performance area (ranga).
• The performance area (ranga) consisted of a main area (rangapitha), upstage (rangashirsha), musicians’ area (kutapa) hidden from the audience’s view with a curtain (yavanika), and two downstages (mattavaranis).
• Multiple performance areas allowed for several events and encounters to take place simultaneously.
• Few props, scenery, and decorations were used; instead, location and actions were indicated through symbolic movements and mime.
• Unlike Greek and Roman theater, women and men could be actors.
Audience, Playhouse, and Actors
• Rasa is a sentiment, mood, or artistic impression a play creates in a spectator.
• Eight rasas correspond to eight permanent emotions (bhavas), and 33 transient emotions, which the spectator will feel through the actor’s portrayal.
Theory of Performance: Raja
• Bharata describes ten categories of play but two dominated: Nataka which is based on mythology and heroic tales, and prakarana which is based on fictitious stories and less important characters.
• Indian dramatists composed plays in a mixture of Sanskrit and dialects known as Prakrit.
• The finest Sanskrit plays parallel the flourishing of science, math, literature, and philosophy during the Gupta Dynasty (240–550 c.e.).
• Kalidasa’s epic romance Shakuntala is considered by many to be the finest Sanskrit play.
• Muslim invasions and political instability led to the disappearance of Sanskrit theater by 1000 c.e.
Classical Indian Drama
Asian Theatre Today!
Traditional theatre and dance-drama productions continue to be presented today
2007-Tomiyama Reiko was the first women to regulary preform"No" drama.
" Super Kabuki" - using flying effects and advanced Western staging.
Asian theatre has become a 21st century global art.
5 IMPORTANT POINTS!
1) The traditional drama of India wasn't just acting, but symbolic dance with eloquent hand gestures called "mudras",story through song, and accompanying instrumentals.
2) Xiqu, the traditional chinese theatre, translated as "tuneful theatre" is more sung than spoken.
3) Japan's two great theatre creations are "No" and "Kabuki", and a puppet theatre known as "Bunraku".
4) Kabuki theatre includes music style,and family relations-the most important of these being family.
5) Kabuki actors study and train most of the lives in hope of developing a full Kabuki persona, a "Kabuki face", into old age.
Indian history has been characterized as a succession of immigrations into the Indian subcontinent. Early traces of civilization there go back to 3000B.C. The Arayans, whocame into southern India 1000 years later, left behind works in sanskrit that constitute the basis of the great Indian literary traditions. Scholars believe that by 1000 B.C., certain fundemental aspects of Indian civilization were already established. One of these is the caste system, under which people are classified by herdity, which is a person who must remain in the caste to which he or she is born, and people aer forbidden to change occupations.