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noh and kabuki

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					Elvis Navarro
IDW 213
Prof. Esteves
12/19/08

                Essay about This is Noh and The Art of Kabuki

                This is Noh and The Art of Kabuki are similar and at the same time different.

Noh Theater and Kabuki have been a great part of Japanese culture for centuries where countless

stories of tragedy are told. Both are use to tell a story that really happened in different ways.

Noh Theater uses different steps and movements to show the tale and music is slower. Kabuki is

more of dancing movements and the music is faster and involves more beats. Noh and Kabuki

are an art that has been part of Japanese culture and are a way of how Japanese people express

history and stories of important families and tragedy. Noh and Kabuki are the Japanese versions

of plays and Soap Operas in the United States.

                Noh Theater is a major form of classic Japanese musical drama that has been

performed since the 14th century. Noh Theater evolved from various popular, folk and aristocratic art

forms. Noh derived from "Wu musical" traditions in various Chinese dynasties, and folk theatricals. By

tradition, Noh actors and musicians never rehearse for performances together. Instead, each actor,

musician, and choral chanter practices his or her fundamental movements, songs, and dances

independently or under the tutelage of a senior member of the school. Thus, the tempo of a given

performance is not set by any single performer but established by the interactions of all the performers

together. There are four major categories of Noh performers: shite, waki, kyōgen, and hayashi. Even in

females roles the males dress up as females to play the role of a woman in the play. There are

approximately 250 plays in the current repertoire, which can be divided according to a variety of

schemes. The Art of Kabuki is the highly stylised classical Japanese dance-drama. Noted for its

attractive make-up of characters, their elaborate costumes, detailed gestures and well-defined body
movements presented in tune with the anchor playback music and complementary percussion. Kabuki

theatre is known for the stylization of its drama and for the elaborate make-up worn by some of its

performers. The individual kanji characters, from left to right, mean sing , dance , and skill. Kabuki is

therefore sometimes translated as "the art of singing and dancing. The word kabuki is believed to

derive from the verb kabuku, meaning "to lean" or "to be out of the ordinary", so kabuki can be

interpreted to mean "avant-garde" or "bizarre" theatre. Kabuki is more fast paced and uses strong

movements and strong language. The actors make bizarre movements and exaggerated actions in the

play. The history of Kabuki began in 1603 when Okuni of Izumo, possibly a miko of Izumo Taisha, began

performing a new style of dance drama in the dry riverbeds of Kyoto. Female performers played both

men and women in comic playlets about ordinary life. Kabuki was born as ensemble dance and drama

was performed by women—a form very different from its modern incarnation. In Kabuki's nascent

period, women were the only performers in the plays. Soon women began attracting the wrong types of

audiences and gaining too much attention from men. This type of attention raised some eyebrows and

officials felt as if women were degrading the art of Kabuki. In 1629, women were banned from

appearing in kabuki performances. Kabuki was performed by women in the beginning and in Noh men

performed the female role. Since kabuki was already so popular, young male actors, known as wakashu

or sometimes oyama, took over after women were banned from performing. Playwrights such as

double suicides by lovers which happened in real life were adapted for Kabuki plays. Kabuki is the most

popular of the traditional styles of Japanese drama . The kabuki stage features a projection called a

hanamichi ( literally, flower path), a walkway which extends into the audience and via which dramatic

entrances and exits are made. Kabuki has more than 500 playwrights in its repertoire.

                The similarities of Noh and Kabuki are that they are both Japanese forms of drama and

art theater. Both use playwrights of real events and tragedies that happened in Japan and these

tragedies are portrayed in Noh and Kabuki. Also Noh and Kabuki use a stage and actors to conduct the
play. Noh actors and musicians do not practice together they practice by themselves and with a

teacher to hone their skills. Noh uses shorts steps to represent the different characters in the play. Also

the movements are smooth and gentle and flow along with the music. Kabuki also uses actors and

movements to conduct the play. Also both use vibrant dress clothes and traditional Japanese style of

clothes. Both use instruments to accommodate music along with the play. Both use actors who are

male and female where males might portray females’ roles while females portray males roles. Both use

playwrights of real stories of emperors and royal families who had tragedies.

                The differences of Noh and Kabuki is that Noh uses short movements and slower

movements while Kabuki uses strong violent movements. Noh’s music is one beat at a time while

Kabuki’s music incorporates many beats. Kabuki uses rapid movements and its exaggerated while Noh

uses smooth slower movements. Kabuki uses more colorful clothing while Noh uses darker colors. In

Noh the musicians stand behind the actor or actors while in Kabuki the musicians are hidden and just

the actors are seen. In Noh the characters use masks that represent happy, serious, angry, sad, in pain

faces that are used to represent the warrior. In Kabuki repertoire actors are prescribed a costume and

makeup. In Kabuki princesses always wear crowns of twinkling silver foil flowers. White faces usually

denote nobility of spirit, while red faces generally belong to villains. The Kabuki style of makeup is said

to have been inspired by that of the Beijing Opera. Noh usually uses one actor while Kabuki uses several

actors to carry out the play. The killing of Atmasuri would be an ideal candidate for an Kabuki play

because it is a tragic story which fits right into Kabuki. The Damask Drum and Birds of Sorrow would

also be Kabuki plays. All these plays could also be portrayed in Noh Theater.

                To me movements portrayed in Noh simulate does moves of the Chinese art of Tai Chi

with its graceful movements. To me Kabuki is like a live soap opera or play like beauty and the beast or

Romeo and Juliet. Both styles of drama have been a big part of Japanese culture and express what

Japanese culture is all about. Noh and Kabuki is to Japan what soap operas and plays are here in the
United States. Noh and Kabuki show beautiful art and dress and captivate the audience with their

charm and grace.

				
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