Japanese Noh

Noh theater and Noh Is a style of traditional Japanese theater from an aristocratic and religious conception of life. The Noh combines chronicles in verse danced in pantomimes. Dressed in sumptuous costumes and masks specific (there are 138 different masks), the actors play essentially the shogun and samurai. The theater consists of Noh dramas of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, play stripped and codified. Such actors are accompanied by a small orchestra and a choir. Their gesture is stylized as the word that appears sung. The gesture was interrupted by the famous miiye What accounted for the engravers of Japanese actors. These long stops in the time of gesture and facial expression to increase in intensity.

Formed late thirteenth century in Japan, Noh is a form of theater combining two traditions: the pantomime danced and chronic verse recited by wandering monks. The drama, whose protagonist is covered with a mask, was played on holidays in the sanctuaries. His players, protected by the daimyo and shoguns are passed since then from father to son the secrets of their art. The Noh has evolved in various ways in popular art and aristocratic. It also forms the basis of other forms such as Kabuki drama. After Zeami established rules of Noh, the directory has been frozen in the late sixteenth century and is still intact. NO is unique in its subtle charm (yugen) and its use of distinctive masks. When making the mask, leaving the actors symbolically their own personality for the characters they will embody. Rather than tell a complicated plot, Noh theater, highly stylized and simplified, develops a simple donation emotion or atmosphere. Operating on the same mode as autocaricatures the teatralite skips to another interpretation of self.

The Noh was the first form of drama to be recorded in 2001 on the World Heritage List of UNESCO intangible as part of Nogaku, jointly kyogen.

Definition and meaning of the word Noh
Noh can be defined as a "lyrical drama" provided to hear the word "drama" in its first "action" is the poetry of Noh is primarily poetic and not asking a music rhythm and timbre for support.

The word "no" comes from a verb meaning "to be powerful, capable of", hence, used as a noun, meaning "power, ability, talent.

The term has Noh, very early, was used to identify the "talented" artists, dancers and performers, what they were capable. By sliding direction (skill> what is running with talent> executed piece), we very quickly came to designate the play itself. This latter sense of "play" that Zeami Motokiyo gives the word "no" in the "Nosakusho" on how to compose Noh.

Sarugaku and Dengaku
Until the seventeenth century, Noh is known sarugaku no no, or simply sarugaku. This term comes from himself sangaku, which identifies a range of performing arts, including acrobatics, juggling, magic and pantomime, imported from China. Gradually, pantomime comic became the main attraction, resulting in the change of name (sarugaku may read the performing monkey).

At court, the art was the preferred Gagaku (music) and Bugaku (dance accompanying the Gagaku). This art was intended to smooth, elegant, refined, and was intended for an audience of mostly aristocratic.

At the same time, traditions and rituals peasants had given birth to a set of dances and rites to ensure good crops and to appease evil spirits. Charged in connection with divination practices of esoteric Buddhism, the rituals had the support of nobles and major Buddhist temples. This support led gagaku dancers to focus on the dramatic dimension of their art. The kagura, is often cited as a primary source of NO.

Kan'ami and Zeami
In 1345, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, the future shogun then travel to Japan, attended a performance given by a sarugaku experienced player (43 years): Kiyotsugu Kan'ami (1333 to 1384). Very impressed with his stage antics, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu prompt (he and his troop, and his son Zeami Motokiyo, then aged 11) to settle in his court. The support given by this powerful relationship Kan'ami allowed to develop a synthesis of pantomime sarugaku and dances and songs of Gagaku in the direction of an art elegant and refined, adapted to the tastes of an aristocratic audience.

Paternity Noh returns but the son of Kan'ami, Motokiyo Zeami (1363-1443). Actor in the company of his father, he also enjoyed the favor of the shogun. Pushing the stylization further than did his father, he imposed the yugen "quiet elegance", like Noh ideal. Zeami was both an actor, director and a prolific author, writing simultaneously plays and theoretical essays that became the foundations of Noh. It is likely that fundamentally most plays written by his father, as well as earlier pieces. Because of the constraints imposed by these new rules, the burlesque aspect of sarugaku found expression in the form of comic Kyogen, whose performances are linked as a counterpoint to those of Noh. The treaty is essential to Zeami Transmission of the flower and style (Fushi Kaden), written in 1423 and which remains the seminal work for contemporary actors.

Noh and shoguns
The subsequent history of Noh is closely linked to its relationship with power. Thus, after the death of Kan'ami, three people were sharing the center stage: Zeami himself, his cousin On'ami (died 1467) and his adopted brother Konparu Zenchiku (1405 to 1470). Followers of style more flamboyant than Zeami and probably better actors, and On'ami Konparu received the benefit of the successors of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshinori (1394 - 1441) and Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1436 - 1490), while Zeami fell into disgrace.

The Onin War (1467-1477) and the weakening of the shogunate ensuing dealt a serious blow to Noh. To survive, the descendants of On'ami and Zenkichu Konparu attempted to address a broader audience by introducing more action and more characters.

The revival of Noh, however, was held under the auspices of Oda Nobunaga (1534 - 1582) and Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537 - 1598), the latter being a big fan of Noh, which ensured the protection of troops. At the same time, the splendid culture of the Momoyama period profoundly affected the Noh, sending him a taste of magnificent costumes, masks the form still used today and the shape of the scene. It is also during this time that freezes the Noh repertoire.

This protection was continued to the Edo period under the Tokugawa. Already deeply linked to familial transmission, the Noh became totally a family affair, each player should belong to a lineage (the adoption of adults was then a common practice to integrate new players). This development is to be linked with the division of society into classes more and more airtight, which took place at that time.

Essential element of entertainment and by extension shoguns samurai, the noh became practically reserved for them. Under the influence of this audience, the performances became more solemn and longer, the Noh becoming a serious art, requiring great concentration from the audience.

Read also Sarugaku


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