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Asian Theatre

by: Janell Notetaker

Asian Theatre THEA 11000

Janell Notetaker
GPA 3.0

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About this Document

These notes are from Week 3 of Art of Theatre: Asian Theatre
James A. Weaver
Class Notes
Art, Of, theatre, Asian, week, three
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Janell Notetaker on Tuesday September 13, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to THEA 11000 at Kent State University taught by James A. Weaver in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 7 views. For similar materials see THE ART OF THE THEATRE in Theatre and Dance at Kent State University.


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Date Created: 09/13/16
THEATRE OF ASIA SEPT 13      Theatre of Asia  The theatre of and performances that have been studied so far have been  European and American.   However, Asia had its own traditional theatre forms and styles.  Theatre in Asia is focusing on: ­ Chinese theatre  ­ Japanese theatre      Chinese Theatre  China is Asia’s largest nation and is the home of Asia’s oldest theatre tradition.  Chinese theatre is more sung than spoken, just like any other Asian play     The Origin of Peking Opera  Among xiqu is the most popular type of Chinese Opera is Peking ­ Peking: or Beijing Opera ­ Jinhiu: or theatre of the capital  Founded in 1790 due to the emperors eighteenth birthday  A group of actors from the mountain province of Anhui traveled to Beijing and  surprised the court with the brilliant and innovative style of singing, music,  acrobatics and martial arts.      The Monkey King (Peking Opera)  One of the most popular pieces  Based on the popular novel, Journey to the West, published in 1590  Peking opera illustrates Chinese popular culture and literature  Most of the operas are based on the myths and legends of the three kingdoms: ­ Tang (618­907) ­ Sung (960­1279) ­ Ming (1368­1644)      Japanese Theatre  Traditional theatre is very popular and appreciated by a wide range of the  population  There are three types of Japanese theatre: ­ Noh ­ Kabuki ­ Bunraku       Noh Theatre  Japan’s most revered and celebrated theatre  Perfected in the fourteenth centuries by Kan’ami and his son Zeami THEATRE OF ASIA SEPT 13  Noh Themes  A very ceremonial drama, mysterious, tragic, and almost always  portrays supernatural events and characters.  Contains the Buddhist, didactic message that “ultimate peace  comes through union with all being, that individual desire must be  overcome, and that nothing in earthly life is permanent.”  Noh Characters  All Noh plays focus on one character known as the shite. Shite­ a generic term for the character who is interrogated,  prompted, and challenged the “waki.”  Waki characters are always living males, typically ministers,  commoners, or priests.   Shite characters may be gods, ghosts, women, animals, or warriors.  The shite role is characterized in a mask, different from the waki  characters.   Noh­Masks  Regarded as something more than mere equivalents of make­up  They bore spiritual and mystic worth.  Noh Stage  Has been standardized for almost four hundred years  Raised approximately three feet and is divided into three areas: ­ The stage proper (butai) ­ The proper (hashigakari)  ­ The rear stage (atoza)   These areas are roofed, and the butai is supported by four columns  The back “mirror” wall is made of wood, and is used to bounce the sound back to the audience  Each of the four columns that hold up the ornate roof that covers  the stage has a specific meaning  The Back Wall  A portrait of a pine tree is painted on the back wall and one the  stage­left wall is bamboo  Reminders of the natural scenery that formed the background in  the earliest years of Noh.   The Chorus (stage left)  Stage left of the butai is an area called wakiza Wakiza­ where the chorus kneels on the floor in two rows  The chorus recites many of the shite’s lines, even when the shite is  dancing, or narrating  The audience views the performance from two sides: ­ In front of the main stage (butai) THEATRE OF ASIA SEPT 13 ­ Facing the stage from alongside of the bridge (hashigakari)  Hashigakari (bridge)  Functions as a space for entrances and exits of the main characters   The three pine trees in front of the bridge serves as heaven, earth,  and humanity.  The Musicians  Back of the upstage pillars is the rear stage, atoza, where the  musicians and attendance sit  The orchestra is made up of a flute, a small drum, a big drum, and  a stick drum, provided continuous musical accompaniment      Kabuki  Japan developed two other traditional theatre forms: ­ Kabuki ­ Bunraku   Has been the most popular among the other forms because of its  splendor and grandness in scenery, costume, and movement.  ­ Ka= song ­ Bu= dance ­ Ki= skill  Kabuki Origins  Originated when Izumo no Okuni, a female dancer from the Izumo Grand Shrine, danced on an improvised stage in riverbed at Kyoto  around 1600.  Featured an all­female cast in short musical skits  Women played both male and female parts  Performed for an audience generally given over to drinking,  horseplay, and sexual adventurism  Women were outlawed from the stage in 1629 by the feudal  government due to finding Okuni Kabuki unlawful  Adolescent boys began to take over acting roles  Even then boy­kabuki was found too raucous by the government,  who outlawed the young boy performers  Eventually three male performers were able to perform and are still performers for kabuki today.    Kabuki Types  Most kabuki plays fall into one of three categories: ­ History (Jidaimono) ­ Domestic (Sewamono) ­ Dance Dramas (Shosagoto)   Chikamatsu Monzaemon (1653­1725) a major playwright, wrote  several of Kabuki plays THEATRE OF ASIA SEPT 13  Kabuki Theatres  Very popular among commoners especially because the kabuki  theatres were noisy social get­togethers places where people could  talk, eat, drink, and take a nap during the performance.  Vendors were allowed to sell food and drinks  Hanamichi  Kabuki theatres are impressive structures that can hold up 2600  spectators   The runway is used for grand entrances and exits, called the  Hanamichi ­ Hanamichi­ or flower way  The reason for the flower way was due to the actors being thrown  flowers when walking close to the audience  Sets and backdrops in kabuki theatres can be spectacular in nature  and may be 2­3 stories high   Kabuki­za Today and How the Performance Begins  The curtain is the famous symbol of kabuki art that has been in use since the seventeenth century Kabuki Curtain­ a lightweight cloth of alternating black,  green, and rust­colored vertical stripes  Performances begin with a few claps from the wooden blocks  which build into a furiously accelerating crescendo.   A stage hand hidden within the creases of the curtain pulls the  curtain across the stage  Kabuki Actor Families  Kabuki is a tightly controlled family business  Every leading actor is a male member of one of only a dozen  historical kabuki families  The iemoto system ensures the orderly succession of the family’s  actors, with fathers passing on their skills, roles, and their earned  stage names to favored sons at elaborate public rituals which  usually take place in a special performance   Kabuki Performers  Kabuki actors were all male  Women portrayed by male actors specialized in the women’s roles  Called “on’nagata”   Mie  Kabuki has man conventions in acting and movement Mie­ a sudden and grotesque contorted freeze  THEATRE OF ASIA SEPT 13  Used when a male character, ordinarily in a brave warrior type role called aragoto, concludes a violently accelerating dance movement at a key moment in the play.  In the Mie posture, the actor’s eyes cross, his head turns sharply  forward with the chin tucked in, and the big toe pointed towards  the sky     Kabuki Theatre Today  Kabuki theatres today are grand edifices in major Japanese cities ­ The Kabuki­za in Tokyo ­ The Minamiza in Kyoto ­ The Shinkabukiza in Osaka  All eye­catching Japanese baroque structures with curved gables  and undulating tile roofs  The Kabuki­za in Tokyo was remodeled and reopened in 2013      Bunraku  The third classic theatre of Japan  Has its roots in the sixteenth century and before then  The history of Bunraku is familiar with that of kabuki  Actually many kabuki dramas began as puppet plays and many plays to this day  are performed in both kabuki and Bunraku formats     Gidayu (Chanter) and Musician Puppets mine the action of all the characters while their melodic  and intensely passionate speech comes from Gidayu chanters, who  would sit on the low platform of the stage left.  Next to the chanter, the musician plays the shamisen, a Japanese  string instrument     Bunraku Puppeteers A puppet is half life­size Three puppeteers manipulate one puppet A principal puppeteer operates the head, torso, and facial  expressions, and right arm; another puppeteer operates the left arm; and another operates the feet The trainees have to first master the manipulation of the feet and  they are allowed to operate With the approval of their puppet masters the left arm and then  finally the head, torso, and right arm     Bunraku Puppets  Puppets can convincingly simulate weeping and despair as well as  laughing, walking, and even smoking THEATRE OF ASIA SEPT 13  In order to maintain audience, focus on the puppet characters, the  puppeteers are draped head­to­toe in black, except for the principal puppeteer  The principal puppeteers face has to be expressionless  In a scene with many puppets, even the principal puppeteers often  are draped in black in order to not give the audience the impression that the stage is to crowded.


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