Week 6; Day 11 + 12 Notes: Traditional Theatre Of Japan.
Week 6; Day 11 + 12 Notes: Traditional Theatre Of Japan. Theatre 152
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This 7 page Class Notes was uploaded by Becca LeBoeuf on Monday March 14, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Theatre 152 at University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh taught by Bryan Vandevender in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 20 views. For similar materials see Non Western Theatre in Theatre at University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh.
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Date Created: 03/14/16
Week 6 3/7/2016 Traditional Theatre Of Japan: ● Japanese Theatre Traditions: ○ Noh (No) actors are the primary focus. ○ Kabuki actors are the primary focus. ○ Bunraku type of puppetry. ● Noh Theatre (Highbrow): drama of choice for the intellectual elite. High priced tickets. ● Kabuki And Bunraku Theatre (Lowbrow): considered the theatre of the masses. Low priced tickets. Not as literary. Early Japan And Performance: ● Early Performance Traditions: ○ Kagura: shinto religious rituals. ■ Entertainment of the gods. ■ Reenactment of myths/fables. ○ Bugaku: masked, dance, and pantomime. ■ Passed down and taught within a family unit. ○ Sangaku: mixed entertainment “borrowed” from China. ■ Referred to as scattered music. ■ Utilizing music, dance, and movement. ○ All of these performances are happening before the introduction of Buddhism. ■ Introduced during the 6th century (C.E.). Zen Buddhism In Japan: ● Comes to Japan by way of China and Korea. ○ Influence travels. ● Not necessarily a popular religion from the start implemented by the Imperial Court slowly over time. ● There Are Two Types Of Meditation In This Religion: ○ Dhyana: meditation that seeks to detach the mind from the outside world. ○ Zazen: seated meditation that invites calm and aims to unite the mind and body. ○ Goal enlightenment. Tenets Of Buddhism: DEFINITELY ON TEST! ● Four Noble Truths: ○ Suffering. ○ Cause of suffering caused by one’s self. ○ Cessation of suffering if you can follow the path to cessation, you will be enlightened and the suffering will end. ○ Path that leads to cessation. ● Karma: consequence for good or bad actions. ● Cycle Of Rebirth: ○ Gods. ○ Demigods. ○ Humans. ○ Animals. ○ Ghosts. ○ Hell. ● Nirvana: supreme state free from suffering that break the cycle of rebirth. Free from all worldly concerns. Noh Theatre: ● Noh Theatre Elements: ○ Dance ○ Poetry. ○ Mime. ○ Music. ○ Acting. ● Reflected the ceremonial and meditative life of the aristocracy. ● Outgrowth of Amida and Zen Buddhism as well as Shinto. PreNoh Performance: ● SarugakuNo: ○ The performance formerly know as Sangaku. ○ “Monkey Entertainment”. ○ Performed at shrines and temples. later folk festivals. ● DengakuNo: ○ Folk festivals and agricultural prayers. ○ Performed by Shushi (Buddhist masters of incantation). ○ Sponsored by nobles. ● Both are full of song, dance, and mimicry. Noh’s Historical Context: ● 14th and 15th centuries. ● Emperor cedes (gives up) his secular power to a Shogun (military dictator). ○ Creates a feudal system in which the highest tank is that of a Samurai (warrior). ○ Disgraced samurai: ronin (“men adrift”). ● Ashikaga family assumes shogunate in 1338 and swell of creative activity follows. ● Kannami And Zeami: ○ Placed under patronage of Shogun Yoshimitsu Ashikaga granted highest privileges of the court. ○ Kannami combines sarugakuno with Zen Buddhist ideals. ○ 2000 Noh plays were written, but the repertory usually consists of only 240 half of those written by Zeami. ○ Zeami’sKadenshois a sevenbook treatise on playwriting and performance theory comparable to The Natyasastra of India. Noh Theatre: ● Noh theatre is ritualistic and intended to achieve two virtues important to Japanese culture: ○ Yugen: mood of quietness, meditation and aesthetic gratification created by elegant, refined, and elusive beauty; profound grace and subtlety. ○ Rani: feeling of ecstasy and exaltation as a response to a high quality of the art. ● Noh dramas are contemplative rituals meant to transport audiences into a transcendental state in harmony with the universe. Noh Drama Types: ● Gods (Kamimono or waki): plays celebrating an auspicious religious event. ● Warriors (Shauramono): plays in which the protagonist is usually a slain warrior whose ghost returns to relieve human suffering. ● Beautiful Women (Kazuramono): also known as “wig plays” because they are acted by men in wigs. ● Madwomen And Lunatics (Zatsu or monoguruimono): plays which deal with madness, obsessions, and unbridled passion. ● Supernatural Beings (Kirimono): demons and devils serve as the protagonist. Noh Drama: ● Each type of play employs a particular type of music. ● Most of the plays in the repertory are short so for that evening of theatre there is usually a sample of each of the 5 types of plays. ● In between each short play there are short farces (kyogen) in interject comedy in between the dramas. ● Noh Theatre is not concerned with intricate plotting but rather to create a mood, emotion, and a spiritual state. ● Most plays have a single, powerful emotion supported by instrumental and vocal music, dance, gesture, and poetry. ● The play's’ action unfold in two parts: ○ Firs section, the central character called the shite appears in disguise as a humble person and speaks in a poetic language. ○ Second section, the shite is transformed into a supernatural being god, demon, or ghostly specter that represents past deeds. ○ Shite is accompanied by a Tsure. ○ Waki: objective third party (often a holy person) watches from side and comments on action. ○ Kokata (child) symbolizes new order. ○ Kyogen (clown) or servant adds irony to play uses colloquial prose. Traits Of Noh And Kyogen Plays: ● Noh: ○ Concerned with human destiny. ○ Subjects from history or classical literature. ○ Main character is masked. ○ Meditative rather than theatrical. ○ Dance, song, chantbased. ○ Pursue ideal, symbolic beauty. ● Kyogen: ○ Comedic (from “monkey” element of Sarugaku). ○ Spoken word. ○ Everyday life of common people or folk tales (“everyman”). ○ Main servant = Taro Kaja. Fans can be used to demonstrate water, wind, a rising mood, or falling rain. Noh Theatre Spaces: ● The Noh theatre stage has specific dimensions: ○ Playing space is 19’ 5” square. ○ Height is 2’7”. ○ Audience is on 3 sides. ○ Moat separates stage from audience. ○ Constructed of highly polished wood that reflects the actors. ○ Backed by a panel with a painted pine tree signifying natural beauty and eternity. ○ Roof is supported by four 15’ pillars. Noh Theatre: ● Actors enter from the audience’s left via a bridge (hashigakari) lined by 3 small trees. ● Before they enter, actors sit in the “mirror room” (kagami no ma) for hours contemplating the polish wood masks they wear. ● Only shite and tsure wear masks that are a rare wood found in one area of Japan and made by one family who has performed this sacred duty for centuries. ● The masks are all hand carved. ● Four musicians play 3 types of drums and a flute. Sit in a alcove upstage in full view of audience. ● Chorus chants the words of the play while sitting on the right side of the stage. ● Principle actors (males) has an assigned area of stage where they perform or sit. ○ Shite is at the place where the bridge meets the stage. ○ Waki is at the pillar diagonal to shite. ○ Kyogen is at the rear of the stage. ○ Rigidity reinforces ritual nature. ○ Costumes are a work of art, hand crafted. ● Techniques have been strictly codified and are not subject to variation. ● The Japanese revere the past and judge a work by the exactness of the replication of ancient methods. ● Actors must learn to recreate meticulously the gestures, intonations and dance steps that were perfected in Zeami’s age. 3/9/2016 Staging: ● Pond: most expensive and desired. Lowest area with tables and chairs. ● Raised area has benches, typically cheaper. ● Balcony: women sat there until 1911. Kabuki Theatre: ● Origins: ○ Song (ka) + Dance (by) + Skill (ki) = Kabuki. ○ Late 16th Century: Noh theatre become official drama. ○ Early 17th Century: Merchant class becomes influential as trade routes b/w Asia and West opened. ○ Merchants frequented shrines. ○ 1603: performance by Okuni on Noh stage. ○ Following performance, audience sat around on grassy hillside. ○ Odon dances were provocative. ○ Okuni portrayed men: men’s pants and foreign headpiece. ○ 1607: Shogun wants her to perform at his castle on the same program as Noh. ○ Audience split up how they took play. Early Kabuki Plays: ● Women played men. ● Men played women. ● Addresses prostitution. ● Erotic nature caused “fans” to fight over women actors banning women from stage in 1629. ● Women the replaced with young men. ○ Women’s Kabuki: onno. ○ Young men’s Kabuki: wakashu. Quarrels erupted again: young men’s Kabuki banned. Only mature males with shaved foreheads were allowed because it made them less attractive. Ban on women and young men. Rise to onnagata role. Mature man creates the dress, dance, and manners idealized women. 16731735 Genroku Period: ● Kabuki expanded and thrived. ● Greatest actor: Ichikawa Danjuro. ○ Created role of Benkei in Kanjincho. ● Rise to greatest poet playwright: Chikamatsu Monzaemon. ● “William Shakespeare” of Japanese Drama. ● Consists of 5 acts like Noh theatre. ● Lasted 12 hours. Reduced to 8 hours in 1868. ● Today much shorter: scene from longer play. ● Audience got breaks: allowed to come and go, eat, and drink. Four Distinct Parts: ● Historical play. ● Dance drama. ● Domestic drama. ● One acr dance drama. Based on people from merchant class. Subject matter comes from: myth, folktales, history. ● More about theatrics, less about story plot. ● Like chinese and non traditions, no pretense at Realism. ● Less poetic and abstract. Acting And Movement: ● Use extraordinary walk. ● Part dance, part martial arts. ● Swing arms and less violently up. ● When actors enter: ○ Freeze and holds pose for a few seconds. ○ Allows audience to assess and recognize character. Stock Characters: ● Aragoto: Rough. ○ Powerful, masculine virtues: power and courage. ○ Derived from samurai code. ○ Larger than life costumes, painted face. ○ Speaks in high pitched voice. Stages: ● Curtain added. ● Trap door and flying machinery. ● Large proscenium: helps focus stage pictures. ● Green, rust, and black striped curtain that parts to reveal memorable stage pictures. ● Large enough to handle a large cast, numerous invisible stage assistants. ● Wood flood has several trap doors. ● Elevators. Encourages interplay b/w actors and audience. ● Shallow auditorium: actors close to audience. ● Hanamichi (path of flowers): audience shout favorite actors name as they walk by. Kata: movement and vocal patterns. ● Actors expected to memorize all traditional Kata. ● ScenicKata: colorful/vibrant pieces falling from ceiling. ○ Represents cherry blossom or snow. Doesn’t use masks unless for warrior that was decapitated. Nagauta: ensemble of musicians. ● Play traditional samisen, flutes, and Noh drums. ● Sit on raised platform. ● 8 chorus members.
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