Applause is not allowed to the entertainment as well as taking photos all the time from biginning to end, according to the traditional style of performance. We request you to turn off your cell phones.
NOH and KYOGEN
Noh and Kyogen are Japanese classical performing arts originated in 14th century. Over the past six hundred years, they have been refined into a sophisticated art form, however, continued to be performed with their original texts and direction.
On the surface Noh appears to be delicate, but the inner strength and control needed by Noh and Kyogen performers are masculine in nature, thus they are traditionally done by male ("Tsure" roll is exeptionally played by female actor in today's drama). Female and super natural roles are portrayed with the aid of masks. It should be noted that the actors' voices never change for female characters like in Kabuki. In Kyogen, non-excessive woman's roles utilize costumes but no masks.
Noh consists of the combination of three elements. First is the dialogue and singing of the actors. The story and atmosphere expressed by the chorus and orchestra follows next. Last is dance and its instrumental accompaniment which is often highlighted by flute.
Some forms of Noh have dramatic story, but in many plays the atmosphere and mood of events are the focus. On the other hand, Kyogen plays are usually comedies that do not have chorus or orchestra. The story line is carried by the dialogue.
The text of Kyogen is easily followed by Japanese speaker, however, Noh uses elevated and ancient forms of Japanese language. So it is very difficult to understand. The text of Noh has a poetic nature and its total effect is much more important than the individual lines and words. Noh is best appreciated when it is thought to be an artistic presentation of dance and music.
Noh stage has no lighting, sets or curtains. Props are kept at a minimum as well. This simplicity of staging is a refinement of Noh's earliest forms.
Noh demands extreme skill and dedication for performers. In today's performance, the physical and mental control of the actors are combined with virtuosity of the musicians.
(Written by Ryo ARAKI)
Noh “KUSENOTO - The Kuse Gate"
Shite;leading roll:Ryo Araki
Tsure;supporting roll:Miki Miyauchi
Waki;secondary roll:Kazuyuki Fukuoh
Ai;kyogen actor:Kentaro Okutsu
"Amanohashidate", the heavenly bridge, one of the three most scenic spots in Japan, is named because it looks like a bridge thrown over the heaven when seen upside down. This drama of sacred spot Kusenoto, located this, is made after the birth myth of Amanohashidate in the ancient time.
The pine tree is set in front of the stage at the opening.
With a magnificent music in the background, the Ministers (Waki) arrives at Kusenoto.
There appear a young man and old fishermen, with a solemn music, are asked by the Ministers about the legend of the place; this is where the deity descending to bless the land.
The old man, sitting at the stage center placing the rod, begins to praise of the deities and becomes clear of his being incarnation of deity (mainly the chorus sings his words instead) . The chorus and orchestra play with the atmosphere by Japanese unique religious beliefs mixed by Buddhism and Shinto. Then the two disappear.
A deity in a lower position at Kusenoto (Ai; storyteller) comes to play a stalling skit with dancing to gain a time for changing clothes of Shite and Tsure.
To the accompaniment music joining the stick drum, a female deity (Tsure, double roll of the former young man) appears with a lantern as if coming down from heaven. Being led by the spectacular music especially by a flute, the dragon king (Shite, also the former old fisherman) comes after holding a lantern of the dragon palace.
They perform a mutual dance putting their lanterns to the pine tree. Praising the peace of the land in celebration, they leave to the heaven, to the dragon palace into the sea.
This drama is mainly written for praising an excellence of belief through the power of music rather than its story. The orchestra, experts of the current master of a home best, will bring you the essence of not only primitive but avant-garde music.
It is one of the most unusual dramas in the repertoire of approximately 250 varieties in 600 years. Today is a valuable one-time opportunity in 17 years performed in Tokyo. (about 80 minutes)
Iccho "Unrin-in (Unrin-in-temole)"
Shoulder Drum:Seijiro Ko
The most moving part of this performance will be a co-starring with a chanting and a shoulder drum of various fascinating rhythm. (about 7 minutes)
Kyogen "Wakame (A Seaweed)"
Shite;leading roll:Matasaburo Nomura
A disciple (Shite; leading roll) is ordered to buy a seaweed for a relish to the customers. He is at a loss for not knowing how a seaweed looks like, and where he can get it. A swindler, gazing at him, tries to trick the disciple into buying "Young woman (also pronounced “Wakame” in Japanese)". (about 40 minutes)
Noh "KANTAN (The Pillow of Kantan)"
Shite;leading roll:Toshiyuki Sato
Child courtier:Kaori Komparu
Waki;sedondary roll:Tsuneyoshi Mori
Ai;kyogen actor：Matasaburo Nomura
This drama is based on the Chinese legend, he who sleeps on this pillow sees in a moment's dream through the past to the future spread out before him.
It’s popular for the dramaturgy of scene changing by connecting three scenes skillfully configured like “ bedroom in a rural inn” →”luxurious royal life in dream” →”former bedroom again” .
At the opening，a landlady (Ai; storyteller) of the Kantan village in China tells, “a long while ago I gave lodging to one who practiced wizardry; and as payment be left here a famous pillow, called the “Pillow of Kantan”. On a appearing orchestra, Rosei (leading roll) appears , singing that he hasn’t sought Buddha's way, so has drifted from dusk to dawn and dawn to dusk. He’s hastening to visit a mighty sage, wishing to be told what rule he should conduct his life.
Coming to the village of Kantan, Rosei lodges here tonight though the sun is still high. The landlady talks about the Pillow of Kantan. Unthrifty of the noon he turned aside to seek a wayside dream on the borrowed Pillow of Kantan, he laid his head and slept.
While Rosei is still lying his head, the liege （Waki; supporting roll）enters followed by two Attendants carrying a litter. From now on the stage will be in the scene in dream . Rosei rises when the liege begins to speak, he’s come as a messenger to tell you that the Emperor resigns his throne and commands that Rosei shall reign in his stead.
Rosei, looking at the jeweled palace(former the bed, regarded as a palace) in astonishment.
The Chorus chanting about the palanquin full of treasure, the light wells and wells like a rising tide, a mountainous huge mound of silver eastward, of gold westward, flags of a thousand lords, the noise of their wind-flapping, rolling round the echoing earth.
Rosei, becoming the Emperor, has reigned for fifty years. Deign but to drink this drink and he shall live a thousand years. The liege brings the “immortal nectar” and the magic cup to him, circling from hand to hand.
At the end of the Boydancer’s dance, Rosei, has been watching, now springs up in ecstasy to dance the Gaku (Chinese Court Dance with many footsteps). In the middle of the dance, intoxicated Rosei is falling down from the bed. While dancing Rosei watches the seasons passing through. The time spread, now fifty glorious years have passed by. Before long the palace, many courtiers, all the things around him are disappeared, he awakes from his dream.
Rosei, just before awakening, acrobatically jumping into the bed with a running start, is regarded as a climax of this entertainment. “Palace” becomes a bed again, he’s asleep.
The landlady awakes Rosei from his dream. He dreamed while a bowl of meal cooked. He realizes this pillow persuades him that all the things in present world must be end , life is but a dream.
Learning thus, he turns homeward from the village of Kantan. (about 90 minutes)
(Written by Miki MIYAUCHI)