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Noh Theatre

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Scott Horton

on 17 March 2014

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Transcript of Noh Theatre

Noh Theatre
A presentation by Scott Horton, Nick Bowles, & Keanu Smith
Origin of

14th Century was apex
Popularized by Zeami Motokiyo---turned sarugaku into noh
4 main troupes established
Draws influence from Dengaku, Shirabyoshi, and Gagaku
Tokugawa Hidetada made Noh

Noh Cont.
Noh Today?
Noh Way!

Noh theater is still a popular form of traditional Japanese drama
Became official ceremonial art during the Tokugawa Period
Governed/Regulated by Shogunate
Added a fifth troupe---still exists
Noh's Rise to Popularity
Izumi Motoya
-Prince of Kyogen
Following Meiji Restoration, Noh lost government support
---> decline
Recently has seen a revival--likely because of popular younger actors.
Regular people couldn't learn Noh song or dances
Developed alongside Noh
Incorporated into Noh between plays
Sometimes humorous
Around 10 minutes
Sometimes aikyōgen--non humorous
Special theaters with Noh stages can be found in many cities, with the National Noh Theater found in Tokyo, and the Otsuki Noh Theater in Osaka.
ticket prices range from 3000 to 10000 yen and can usually last a few hours, that consists of two or thee Noh acts with Kyogen pieces in between
Outdoor Noh stages exist as well
Audience Etiquette
Similar to formal western western plays/operas; restrained applause, no cheering, no cell phones.
snacks are served in between acts, including; tea, bentos, or wagashi (sweets)
seating is more desirable at the front while the edges are generally more preferred as Noh actors rarely stand center stage, but rather near the columns.
over 1500+ professional Noh actors, starting at the age of 3
1) What has happened to the popularity of Noh in modern times?

2) Traditionally, refreshments are served between Noh performances. What else can an attendee expect to see during the interludes on a Noh performance day?

3) What prop does EVERY performer on a Noh stage carry with him?

4) How can you tell that a Noh actor has the role of a god, demon, woman, or elderly person?

5) When do professional Noh performers typically start training?

1) Noh has been characterized by some as "Japanese opera." Do you think the comparison is apt? Why or why not?

2) How do you feel about iemoto (the practice of keeping the secret traditions of an art form within a family line) as applied to Noh? Is its impact on the art form as a whole primarily positive or negative?

Elements of Noh
Many Noh plays are drawn from The Tale of Genji or The Tale of Heike (an epic about the Genpei War).
Other classics from the Nara and Heian periods are also common sources for Noh dramas.
Five Types of Noh Plays
1) 'Deity' plays
2) 'Warrior' plays
3) 'Wig' or 'Woman' plays
4) Miscellaneous plays
5) 'Final' or 'Demon' plays
Type 1
Type 2
Type 3
Type 5
Stage hands
Not pictured: the Kyōgen, who perform during interludes and between plays
The Hayashi ensemble
Seated at the back in full view of the audience
Purely instrumental; do not sing (that's the Chorus)
No shamisen (unlike Kabuki or Bunraku)
Stick drum
Transverse flute
Shoulder drum
Hip drum
Everyone on stage has a fan!
Very few other hand props; most itens represented by the fan. Action is largely symbolic.
The Stage
Same backdrop every time (pine tree)
Hollow drums beneath the stage for better stomping sounds
Polished floor for better gliding
Sloped floor for a better view of the performers' feet
Used for divine figures, demons, women, and old people
Specially sculpted to show different expressions based on angle and lighting
Full transcript