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No and Kyogen in the Contemporary World

No and Kyogen in the Contemporary World

Foreword by Ricardo D. Trimillos
Copyright Date: 1997
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  • Book Info
    No and Kyogen in the Contemporary World
    Book Description:

    How do classical, highly codified theatre arts retain the interest of today's audiences and how do they grow and respond to their changing circumstances? The eight essays presented here examine the contemporary relevance and significance of the "classic" No and Kyogen theatre to Japan and the West. They explore the theatrical experience from many perspectives--those of theatre, music, dance, art, literature, linguistics, philosophy, religion, history and sociology.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6375-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    James R. Brandon
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Ricardo D. Trimillos

    The phrase “the world of” has often been invoked to denote a closed and sometimes exclusive domain. However, in this book it connotes quite the opposite. The conference onfrom which this collection of essays comes was an extraordinary occasion. It brought together an international and multilingual group of scholars, practitioners, and enthusiasts, not only to reflect and discuss but also to witness a University of Hawai‘i production ofin English whose cast was also international and multilingual. The juxtaposition of performance and scholarship in this single event simultaneously enabled a broader understanding of performance and provided...

  5. PART I Values of Nō and Kyōgen in Contemporary Society

    • Introduction
      (pp. 3-18)

      The simultaneous processes whereby performing arts preserve their current nature while at the same time they adapt to altering circumstances were basic to this conference. Participants in the conference provided provocative ways of viewing the creativity of Japan’s classic theater as well as considering how received knowledge has been transmitted over the six centuries in whichandkyōgenhave been performed. In fact, these so-called classic theater forms have never been static. And in this present day of rapid cultural interchange, these very significant Japanese performing arts are producing effects far beyond the borders of their homeland.

      Conference participants...

    • Expanding Nōʹs Horizons: Considerations for a New Nō Perspective
      (pp. 19-35)
      Richard Emmert

      Japanese often speak ofas having been “perfected” or “consummated” (kansei sareta) by Kan’ami Kiyotsugu and Zeami Motokiyo. For some reason, perhaps due to prejudice in my own Western cultural upbringing, I always find this expression slightly disagreeable. It seems to suggest that there is no need for new developments or new directions in the performance form called.

      In questioning both professional performers and amateur aficionados, several explanations are given for the use of this term and its accompanying state of affairs. First, the termkansei saretareflects the judgment that, historically, what Kan’ami and Zeami did—bringing...

    • Yūgen after Zeami
      (pp. 36-64)
      Arthur H. Thornhill III

      Of all the aesthetic ideals associated with, surelyyūgenis the most widely recognized and admired by contemporary critics and students. However, a careful reading of Zeami’s treatises reveals relatively few passages that directly address or defineyūgen. It has been left to scholars to piece together the evidence, and to audiences to savor what is considered the indispensableje-ne-sais-quoisof theexperience. My intention here is not to arrive at a universal definition ofyūgen; this is not possible, if only because the term is used in so many different ways by poets and performers from the...

    • The Waki-Shite Relationship in Nō
      (pp. 65-90)
      Royall Tyler

      One of the first things one learns aboutis that roles in the plays are classified by type; that a character is normally identified not by name but by the term for the corresponding role; and that among the various roles, those known aswakiandshiteare particularly important. However, once these preliminaries are over, thewakiattracts little further notice. All eyes are on theshite

      The principle that theshiteis the sole focus of attention (shite ichinin shugi) is widely accepted. In a classic essay, Nogami Toyoichirō (1930, 1) insisted: “Although theshiteandwaki...

  6. PART II Adaptation of Nō and Kyōgen to Contemporary Audiences

    • Introduction
      (pp. 93-110)

      The essays in Part II consider certain aspects of the adaptations that have occurred over the centuries in the art ofnō-kyōgen. In his essay, Nagao Kazuo interprets the long history ofas a series of “misunderstandings” or “misconceptions”(gokai)whereby performers attempted to recover an unknown (and unknowable) past. Misunderstanding of the past is inevitable because looking backward in time to the past, it is impossible to recapture the fullness of that earlier era. Some misconceptions result in changes for the good, and some lead to undesirable results. Tom Hare’s essay takes up Zeami’s conception of the process...

    • A Return to Essence through Misconception: From Zeami to Hisao
      (pp. 111-124)
      Nagao Kazuo

      Japan has two major forms of classical theaters—andkabuki. Nōis a theater of medieval Japan and roughly corresponds to the Muromachi period (1338–1574) whilekabukiis a theater of the Edo period (1603–1868). Although they share some similarities, these two theater forms are in most respects quite different from each other. One significant difference is thatkabukihas themie, a solo or group tableau, whiledoes not.

      During the performance of a variety of dramatic genres, in certain scenes characters will freeze motionless at a moment of tense conflict. Or they will pose...

    • Nō Changes
      (pp. 125-141)
      Tom Hare

      With a body of detailed dramaturgical literature, a well-established and canonical repertory, and a carefully pedigreed community of acting families, all dating back to the fifteenth century,drama certainly represents one of the oldest continuously performed dramatic traditions in the world. Yethas changed remarkably in its six centuries. Indeed, one might learn more aboutfrom an examination of the changes it has undergone than from an investigation of its continuities. Nevertheless, change in the world ofcreates great anxiety. Heavy emphasis is placed on replicating one’s teachers’ performances with absolute fidelity. Some of the reasons...

    • Dialogue and Monologue in Nō
      (pp. 142-154)
      Dōmoto Masaki

      With an inundation of decorative speech, Oscar Wilde’s end-of-the-century playSalomeexalts functional aestheticism. Within this play, the heroine Salome dances the famous dance of seven veils and in Richard Strauss’ operaSalome(1907), she does the same. Nonetheless, one does not say the actress or the singer is “dancing” the part of Salome, because dance is only a part of the play or the opera.

      Contrary to this, those of us connected withgenerally refer to “acting” as “dancing.” Indeed, when watching, the purely abstract dance scenes(mai)—normally savored without being distracted by sung...

  7. PART III Encounters with the West

    • Introduction
      (pp. 157-172)

      The previous essays and discussions clearly show that throughout the history ofandkyōgen, performers and producers have never considered their arts to be static or isolated from the world around them. The tastes and interests of successive generations of Japanese patrons and audiences—clergy, samurai, and commoner—encouraged, indeed demanded, change inandkyōgenperformance, from the fourteenth through the nineteenth centuries. With the opening of Japanese society to Western culture, beginning in the latter decades of the nineteenth century, a powerful new influence entered the scene. During the past one hundred years, Western artistic values have...

    • Experiments in Kyōgen
      (pp. 173-182)
      Nomura Mansaku and James R. Brandon

      It is impossible for akyōgenactor of my generation to live isolated from modern life or from contemporary theater. I would like to discuss my experiences relatingkyōgento the larger world around me.¹ When I was in my twenties, entering the world ofandkyōgenjust after the Pacific War, a new wave was rising in the traditional theater. It was the time when Takechi Tetsuji (1912–1988) was directing his famous “TakechiKabuki,” and he had the youngkabukiactors Nakamura Senjaku (now Ganjirō III) and Ichikawa Ennosuke, who were from the Kyoto-Osaka region, under his...

    • Contemporary Audiences and the Pilgrimage to Nō
      (pp. 183-201)
      J. Thomas Rimer

      In terms of both national and international significance, thetheater has served as an example and an inspiration to playwrights, directors, and performers around the world. The list of those in the West fascinated by the form and its potentials is a long and distinguished one. Some of the great theater adepts of the century have been fascinated, and often convinced, of the integrity and efficaciousness of theas a form of poetic theater, and they have made use of it themselves in their own creative work. William Butler Yeats, with hisAt the Hawk’s Well, first performed...

    • Teaching the Paradox of Nō
      (pp. 202-209)
      Nomura Shirō and James R. Brandon

      Why I left my country and my work to teachto American students is something I have thought about a lot over the past year. Of course, one reason is that I believehas unique qualities that are not found in most Western theater and so the effort might contribute something of special value.

      First, theactor wears a mask, denying the actor the use of facial expression so important in most acting. Expression lies in the mask, which is nearly expressionless. Perhaps expression is not even the right word. It is not that the mask is...

    • Pidgin-Creole Performance Experiment and the Emerging Entre-Garde
      (pp. 210-242)
      Jonah Salz

      These thoughts are based on over a decade of experience as a theater student, director, and producer in Japan. It is a subjective assessment stemming from a personal confrontation with the issue: How can non-Japanese artists genuinely, deeply comprehend and utilize the great power and beauty of Japaneseandkyōgenin their own work? I thus enter a tradition of inquiry into the interface between the Occidental and the Oriental theater, a tradition including theorists (Antonin Artaud, Gordon Craig), teachers (Jacques Copeau), directors (Jerzy Grotowski, Peter Brook, Lee Breuer, Eugenio Barba), playwrights (W. B. Yeats, Bertolt Brecht, David Hwang),...

  8. INDEX
    (pp. 243-249)