Customs & Culture January 11, 2015 4:01 pm

Kabuki Noh Overview


Customs & Culture January 11, 2015 4:01 pm

Kabuki Noh Overview


Japan Dreaming

Kabuki Noh Overview: A Quick Look

Kabuki

The essence of this performing art is perfectly captured by its name, which derives from a Japanese word meaning to lean or tilt. UNESCO’s proclamation describes kabuki as “a Japanese traditional theatre form.” It could be described as the result of starting out with nogaku theater as a model and aggressively pursuing amusement. Kabuki is said to have originated with performances by Okuni in Kyoto district in 1603. Only male actors are allowed on the stage, where they give performances consisting of highly stylized movements while wearing special makeup called kumadori. In terms of production, kabuki performances appeal to the full gamut of feeling by making extensive use of various sound effects including shamisen accompaniment, distinctive costumes and hairpieces, stage settings and props, and stage mechanisms. Programs include plays that portray historical events (jidai-mono), plays that draw on the lives of townspeople (sewa-mono), plays that reflect the differences in taste between Kamigata (Kyoto) and Edo (Tokyo), and numerous dance and song sequences that give audiences a chance to focus their attention on compelling actors. Kabuki can be described as a performing art that symbolizes the mature urban culture of Edo, yet throughout its history it has maintained a pioneering character thanks to an ability to infer the changing preferences of its audiences in successive historical periods. Some of its appeal lies in its ability to encapsulate modernity as a classical performing art.

Noh


Noh, a form of musical theater whose mature form was developed by Kan’ami and his son Zeami, is distinguished by richly symbolic performances by a lead actor, known as a shite, on an extremely simple stage. The high-toned literary style of its lyrics (mirroring written language) contrasts with the plain and easily understood spoken style of kyogen, with which it is closely related. Together, Noh and kyogen make up the genre of nogaku theater. While the musical focus remains on a vocal chant (yokyoku), the climax in many Noh plays is delineated by a dance performed by the protagonist with a musical accompaniment (hayashi). Professional actors (nogakushi) maintain the traditions associated with the accompaniment, which includes four instruments (flute, hand drum, knee drum, and drum). By contrast, kyogen features unnamed protagonists that represent common people. With plays that incorporate the occasional powerful woman or animal, and subject matter that focuses on events from everyday life, kyogen creates a world of varied laughter, bringing to life a slice of ancient Japanese language and life.


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This post was written by Mathew Ryan

Kabuki Noh Overview: A Quick Look

Kabuki

The essence of this performing art is perfectly captured by its name, which derives from a Japanese word meaning to lean or tilt. UNESCO’s proclamation describes kabuki as “a Japanese traditional theatre form.” It could be described as the result of starting out with nogaku theater as a model and aggressively pursuing amusement. Kabuki is said to have originated with performances by Okuni in Kyoto district in 1603. Only male actors are allowed on the stage, where they give performances consisting of highly stylized movements while wearing special makeup called kumadori. In terms of production, kabuki performances appeal to the full gamut of feeling by making extensive use of various sound effects including shamisen accompaniment, distinctive costumes and hairpieces, stage settings and props, and stage mechanisms. Programs include plays that portray historical events (jidai-mono), plays that draw on the lives of townspeople (sewa-mono), plays that reflect the differences in taste between Kamigata (Kyoto) and Edo (Tokyo), and numerous dance and song sequences that give audiences a chance to focus their attention on compelling actors. Kabuki can be described as a performing art that symbolizes the mature urban culture of Edo, yet throughout its history it has maintained a pioneering character thanks to an ability to infer the changing preferences of its audiences in successive historical periods. Some of its appeal lies in its ability to encapsulate modernity as a classical performing art.

Noh


Noh, a form of musical theater whose mature form was developed by Kan’ami and his son Zeami, is distinguished by richly symbolic performances by a lead actor, known as a shite, on an extremely simple stage. The high-toned literary style of its lyrics (mirroring written language) contrasts with the plain and easily understood spoken style of kyogen, with which it is closely related. Together, Noh and kyogen make up the genre of nogaku theater. While the musical focus remains on a vocal chant (yokyoku), the climax in many Noh plays is delineated by a dance performed by the protagonist with a musical accompaniment (hayashi). Professional actors (nogakushi) maintain the traditions associated with the accompaniment, which includes four instruments (flute, hand drum, knee drum, and drum). By contrast, kyogen features unnamed protagonists that represent common people. With plays that incorporate the occasional powerful woman or animal, and subject matter that focuses on events from everyday life, kyogen creates a world of varied laughter, bringing to life a slice of ancient Japanese language and life.


Tags: , , , , , ,

Categorised in: ,

This post was written by Mathew Ryan