The Oldest form of Theater: Noh Theater

Noh performance ( source: Google)

Every country in the world has its inception of entertainment and when we think about entertainment the first thing comes to our mind is Theatre.
Noh Theatre is the most traditional form of theatre since the 14th century and continues till current times in Japan.

During 12th or 13th century Noh dance drama were perform at shrines and temple on festivals and special occasions. Noh became more popular form by zeami during the Muromachi period (1333- 1573) zeami was one of the greatest playwright an theorist of the Japanese Noh theatre. Throughout the time of the Tokugawa period ( 1603- 1867), Noh performance became more tradition rather than just art form by the shogunate.

Ancient set up of Noh theatre ( source: Google)

Noh theatre is based around song and dance. Body movement is slow, dialogues are poetical, the tone is flat and costumes are royal and heavy looking. Noh dramas are mostly based on history, literature and modern events. Themes often refer to dreams, supernatural powers, spirits and ghosts.

Initially, noh was performed in open fields but to Morden times Noh is conducted on a very simple square shape stage with a wooden roof that is supported at its four corners by pillars. The backside is the only site that is covered by a wall painted with the image of pine trees. There is no curtain between the performer and the audience.

Modern stage of Noh theatre ( source: Google)

There are five types of Noh plays
God play ( the kami )
• Fighting play (the shura mono)
• Wig play (the katsura mono)
• Present – day play (the gendai mono)
• Final or demon play (the kriri or kichiku)

The kami plays comprised holly stories of Shinto shrines, The shura mono based on the life stories of warriors, The katsura mono has the lead role of a female actress, The Gendai mono consist of realistic stories rather than supernatural power based story, The Kiri or kichiku plays founded on devils and beasts and supernatural powers.

Different types of Noh performance
( source: Google)

There are three major roles in Noh theatre
The principal actor (Shite)
• The subordinate actor (waki)
• The narrator (kyogen)
Each one of them has an important and particular acting place on stage shite are the principal actors, waki who subordinate the lead actor and the kyogen actors are narrators.

Mask are the key elements of the Noh dramas. Shite who are the lead actors, wear the masks which portray their characters to audiences. Masks represent emotions and expressions like demons and spirits, male and female, anger and love. The masks are carved from blocks of Japanese cypress trees.

Mask carving (source: Google )

Noh performances are extremely intense, To express emotions often words are limited so they used to dance and convey poetic dialogue during performance also background music and the very gorgeous costumes of the main characters and overall simplicity of the set and also the clam atmosphere of stage makes it more elegant.

Different types of costumes and masks of actors ( source: Google)

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