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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Traditional noh theater debuts at UA

    Rebecca Marie Sasnett/ The Daily Wildcat
    Rebecca Marie Sasnett/ The Daily Wildcat Jubilith Moore is a guest artist in the noh lecture performance. She is an internationally kown western noh artist.

    A performance and lecture on a Japanese theater tradition will take the stage tonight at Holsclaw Hall. Noh theater, which has its roots in Japanese legend and history, blends elements of music, drama and dance. Traditionally, two primary actors wear elaborate masks, while drummers and chanters accompany them on stage.

    Though traditional noh performances often last an entire day, tonight’s presentation will be more of an introduction to the genre, presented through a sampling of selected scenes from four different noh plays.

    To put on the performance, the College of Fine Arts partnered with the Japan Foundation, an international organization that aims to present elements of Japanese culture to create an understanding between different peoples and traditions.

    “Noh theater is perhaps the oldest living theater tradition in the world,” said James Cook, the UA liaison for the Japan Foundation. “It began in the 13th century and has been ongoing since that time. Today it is still thriving in Japan.”

    The concept of time plays a crucial role in the philosophy behind noh, both behind the scenes and on stage. Masks worn by actors often depict intangible characters of nonhuman or divine form. One of the most unique aspects of noh theater is that the performers, though well-studied in the art, do not rehearse as often as you might think.

    “The theory behind nearly all noh plays in Japan is that earlier in the week [of the performance], the musicians, actors and chorus will come together just one time,” Cook said.

    The agenda for tonight will feature playwright and performer David Crandall and artistic director of Theatre of Yugen, Jubilith Moore, both of whom are well known internationally in the world of noh.
    One of the most popular noh plays, “Hagorom” (The Feather Mantle), will be the first piece performed and will serve to demonstrate the intricate movements of Noh theater.

    Cook said the philosophy driving the practice is “to address this idea of the transiency of life and that we need to encounter the moment as it is and preserve it.”

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