Presentation on theme: "The Noh Theater and its Gestures"— Presentation transcript:
1 The Noh Theater and its Gestures Guerino MazzolaU & ETH ZürichInternet Institute for Music Science
2 The Noh Theater—Principles and Perspectives Kunio KomparuThe Noh Theater—Principles and PerspectivesWeatherhill/Tankosha, Tokyo & New York 1983
3 Muromachi periodNohgaku = Noh + Kyogen = accomplished entertainmentVocal music = utaiInstrumental music = hayashi (1 flute + 3 drums)Acting technique = kata (dance poses + action)Dance elements = mai (dance + utai + hayashi)Fine arts, crafts = masks, robes, instrumentsArchitecture = Noh stageTime = mode of productionSpace = unified space (= stage + public)
4 Art of time-space continuum, Art of time-space continuum, perfection —> stylization/formalizationComparable to avant-garde music including improvisation and chanceUtai-bon (= chant book) contains script, score, rules for performance => conductor superfluousArchitectural space concept is - modular - universal/multi-purposeNegative space = ma = stillness/emptyness before and after performancePositive space = stage properties and dramatic activitiesThese spaces are connected by time, no curtain!
5 Types of time and space: Condensed timeSlippage of timeVanishing timeReversed timeSplit timeShift of spaceOscillating spaceFloating spaceExpanding and contracting spaceSpace that brings the audience „onstage“
6 Noh = experience, responsibility, not appreciation! Like tea ceremony,unique in lifetime,not reproducible!There are no Noh stars...„Never forget the beginner‘s mind!“A Noh program lasts whole day 5 Noh plays + Kyogen are performed
7 There are five Noh principles: Sancticity & magicStages of beautyActor and audienceAesthetic of discordFive element theory
8 1. Sancticity & magicSancticity of space: Space of „sacred dialog with the gods“Magic in technique (from mimes): Acrobatics, mystical forces will power, autosuggestion: Merging self and other mask + mirror„...the mind‘s eye is opened and the soul grasped; the true Noh, hithertoo invisible, comes alive...“
9 2. Three stages of beautyHana = appearant beauty: blossom/flowerYugen = invisible beauty: performed sublimityRojaku(old quiet) = quiet beauty
10 3. Actor and audienceSelf and other, active fusion
11 1. Curtain 2. Third Pine 3. Bridge 4. Second Pine 5. First Pine 6 1.Curtain 2.Third Pine 3.Bridge 4.Second Pine 5.First Pine 6.Shite pillar 7.Eye-fixing pillar 8.Flute pillar 9.Waki pillar 10.Cut-through door 11.Back panel 12.Main Stage 13.Moat Steps 14.Pebble Moat 15.Side Stage 16.Rear Stage 17.Mirror Room
13 4. Aesthetic of discordOdd number important in Japan; against symmetryCenter of shape ≠ center of space:Dynamic balanceJo-Ha-Kyu = most important aesthetic principle:Jo = „beginning“ position = spatial elementHa = „break/ruin“ = destruction, disorderKyu = „rapid“ speed, time elementProduction principle for Noh program:Everything is dominated by Jo-Ha-Kyu.
14 5. Five element theory (odd number!) Elements: wood, fire, earth, metal, water~ 5 breaths, 5 tones, 5 organs, etc.Five Noh play categories: god, warrior, woman, madness, demonHave two time categories: present time dream time=> 10 categories in plays: two time categories x five play categories
17 Every Noh play is one cross section of the life of one person, the shite. The shite has an appearance (demon, etc.) and subject = one of the five elementsThe waki is akind of co-sub- ject and mirror person to the shite.
21 Why are gestures dominant in Noh? Have three languages of human expression:VocalFacialGesturalFacial is impossible because of masksVocal is ambiguous in Japanese, bad for expression of will, reserved to lyrical evocationNoh is dance drama, no opera or balletAll characters are choreographedAll movements consist of units of movement = kata (patterns)chant unit = phrase (12-syllabe line) music unit = melodic + rhythmic units space unit = za (hierarchy of places!)Everything ismodular!
22 Noh gestures are reduced to unit patterns (kata) and made symbolic. This enables much richer communication to audience than by eveyday gestures.Very important for us:„Shite waves a web of fantasy in curves.“„Waki draws reality in straight lines.“
23 Classification of katas Three types:Realistic, e.g., hold a book in your hand, jump into bellSymbolic, e.g., weep = hand to face and backAbstract, e.g., zig-zag = beginning of end of many dances, or extended fanThree categories:Pure danceDescriptiveDramatic
24 Have the gliding walk,transports characters horizontally through space —> white socks!One could understand Noh by observing feet!Interesting performance only in upper half of body!
25 katachi = more than kata: chi = deity, i.e., katachi = form/shape = exterior form of kata + characteristic usage (mask, clothes, character)Dance = „text“ built from kata-units by enchaînment plus syntactical rulesmai = performed kata „text“ plus musicClassification of mai according to elements (music, dance etc.)Noh = enchaînment of 100 types of shodan segments basically 4 types: spoken/chant/instrumental/silence