Noh News Is Good News


This page contains articles written by Greg about Noh, related performances, events, workshops and anything else he wants to share. Please enjoy.

Jet lagged and happy!

Third day in Japan and the jet lag is finally wearing off!  Theatre Nohgaku has been working very hard with Oshima-sensei(s) to get "Pagoda" back up to speed.  The play (happily) has been cut down a bit.  Still seems a little too long.  (There is a coda, for mercy’s sake!)  It is very difficult, I think, for western writers to write noh effectively. BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE!  We tend to try and explain things or at least have a beginning, middle and end all of which has no real place in noh.  Noh just IS.  It’s so hard for us ‘dramatists’ to pare back, to allow the moment to be and refrain from explaining ourselves.  Why would you need a plot when you have an emotion or, in the case of some plays, a single important action?  And why include more than one emotion? One set of circumstances? Dear old Mr. Yeats made the mistake a hundred years ago and we are still paying for it. 
              Of course, I am overstating my point; there are lots of plays where things ‘happen’ (Atsumori springs to mind) but so much is assumed by the author that very little explanation is required.  AND the audience shouldn:t be listening for plot development or character nuance, they should be enjoying the music, poetry and visuals.  That’s what I think, anyway.

              Now about Japan.  GOD, I love this country.  Three times so far, I was sitting in a crowded café and the person next to me got up to use the restroom leaving everything on their seat!  Purse, bags from department stores, EVERYTHING unattended!  I don’t have the nerve, but at the same time I feel I’m insulting everyone when I take my backpack with me just to get a napkin.  The city is thriving and crowded but images of the recent disaster continue to play on the giant video screens.  They advertize laundry detergent and appeals for relief.  One such appeal is accompanied by the Velvet Underground’s “I’m Waiting for My Man.”  This is a city with lots of heart and no irony. 
              And the FASSION!  With all the idiots in the US saying “It was her own fault that she was raped because she dresses like a whore,” it is really refreshing to see women encouraged to be cute and sexy and know that rape pretty much doesn’t exsist.  (I’m sure it does, but no where near the amount it happens in the US.)  I still love the ol’ “melting pot” but it is hard to keep that love alive when you see how nice it is here.  Maybe we need to melt more.  Visited a shrine dedicated to the fox.  Hundreds of statues- -some of them huge, some tiny, all foxes. (Here’s the Kyoto version: This particular shine is a cross between Shinto and Buddhism and the fox is the protector of the Buddha.  In general, the Japanese don’t subscribe to a single religion but are deeply religious - -something else we could learn from them… That and how to make amazing modern toilets… but that’s another story…
Well, I guess I’m still “lagged” because I am REALLY tired and rambling…  Long rehearsal tomorrow and even longer show day on Tuesday.  Wish me luck!

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