Noh Theatre Analysis

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Japanese literature has a long and rich history dating as far back as the Nara period, from AD 712 to 794. This long history has resulted in the production of unique literature works which often reflected the pressing issues being dealt with in society during the times of writing. Exceptional literary work was produced during the medieval period. During this period, Japan was gripped by several civil wars, resulting in the formation of the warrior class and subsequent birth of medieval Japanese literature which focused on histories, war accounts and related stories. The Tale of Heike is a literary work that fully embodies the characteristics of medieval literature. Due to its popularity, it has been adapted from a textual narrative to a performance…show more content…
The name is derived from “no” which means “talent” or “skill” and differs greatly from western narrative dramas. In the Noh theatre, the performance of actors is based on singing as well as dancing, and actors involved in a Noh play are usually characterized by their slow movements, use of poetic language and visually appealing costumes. The Noh theatre has its own conventions of performance. A play usually features two actors: the Shite (main actor) and the Waki (supporting actor). Noh plays are suggested to have strong connections with Buddhism, and this idea is enforced with the Buddhist chanting (which became popular during the late Heian period) that occurs during a Noh…show more content…
The episode from the Tale of Heike we are focusing on does not consist of any female characters. The abundance of male actors could have played a role in convincing directors to choose such an episode in which there is a lack of female characters. Masks are the most fascinating objects implemented in the Noh theatre. The use of masks in the Noh theatre could serve to compensate for a lack of female actors as well as to provide realism. In the Noh play adaptation of Atsumori, the masks effectively display the differences between the reapers and the priest, allowing the audience to differentiate between the two roles. The masks also allow the audience to immerse themselves in the fictional world of the story by providing visuals for them to relate to as opposed to just reading the text. Costumes are another important feature in the Noh theatre. The extravagant costumes and props, such as the flute carried by Atsumori, used in plays can further help the audience to differentiate between characters. Costumes can also aid the audience in identifying the class of the different characters in the Tale of Heike – distinguishing symbols are inscribed on the costumes to differentiate between the warrior, priest and reaper

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