On Saturday July 29th 2006, in Kyoto, Kanze Seinen Kenyu Nō (1) presented a special Nō appreciation event at Kanze Kaikan (Kanze theatre). It was summer and children were on holidays, it was a good opportunity to reach and to teach them how to appreciate Nō theatre in a practical way. The next day the same company would perform a full 6 hour long session of Nō and Kyogen. (2)
The program of the Saturday appreciation event read: ‘Young performers will give a demostration of Tamoe, Ikkaku sennin, and Tsuchigumo, as well an explanation on costumes and a small lesson of Nō performance.’ Tickets cost ¥1,500 (¥1000 for students). (3)
From 10:00 am to 2:00 pm entire families, in a Theatre full to capacity, amused themselves while learning about one of their most precious national treasures.
As I wasn’t able to understand Japanese I decided only to record on video some scenes of the demostration and some part of the explanations and lessons. I’ve always thought that’s the best way to share online my visit experience .
This was the event’s schedule:
As the organiser asked, we arrived at 9:30, yet the whole theatre was already full of people. Most of them were children but there were also old people.
10:00 Demostration of Nō plays: Tamoe, Ikkaru sennin, and Tsuchigumo.
They started on time and presented part of three plays, with explanations about movements, ways of singing and stories.
The video shows one of the Nō players performing a whole scene without a costume, which helped explain the choreography and the perfection of the details. (4)
12:00 All the next activities took place at the same time (5):
Theatre’s hall: explanation of costumes, masks and texts.
The hall was divided into four sections for the explanations: one for costumes, one for masks, and another one for texts. As all of them were done in japanese, so I decided to enter the theatre and see what was going on inside.
These are extremely beautiful images of professional Nō players dressing up children with real costumes and masks and showing them the right way to walk wearing that on stage.
First floor: small lessons on singing, holding a fan, dialogue, choreography with objects, etc.
People were happy and excited waiting their turn for the small personalised lessons on singing, dance and dialogues; I say personalised, because Nō has only one way of teaching its acting: from master to student, one on one.
At that moment, Nō had become a family experience, an entertainment, and an exceptional way for one strange meeting: the common people of our age with a refined traditional performing art.
(1) Kanze Seinen Kenyu Nō is the Nō company in charge of managing the Kanze theatre. As many other Japanese theatre companies its structure of power consists mainly of a big family, recognised for centuries, though today some parts of this structure have changed and some non-family members can be accepted.
(2) See post of 21th of february, 2007:
There I give detailed information about that performance, including a sinopsis, video and photographs.
(3) Of course, I didn’t translate the theatre brochure, I took one extract from a note inside an English language magazine. About the costs of tickets, I could get a student discount thanks to my chinese Qinghua university ID card.
(4) It’s a pity I lost the other part of the video where the same player shows the same movement and choreography with the whole Nō costume.
(5) That way of giving the explanation and lesson was not problematic at all, it was even exciting, as it created a brilliant work dynamic where everyone could do something, wherever you went you’d find somehting interesting to learn. It was a kind of No carnival, joyful and noisy. A fantastic experience.