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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