Thursday, March 8, 2012

Not Your Typical Day at the Theatre: Noh

Previously, we left me sleeping 3 hours before I had to wake up and go see a Noh play for my theatre class (I should probably make a blog post sometime about my classes ne?) which sounded like a cool, albeit tiring plan. I knew it was going to be a bit of a trial because Noh has many Zen influences, and its slow movements are a main aspect of the plays. Yes, I said plays because we saw three.

In a row.

The one in the middle was thankfully Kyogen, not Noh, which typically comes in the middle of Noh plays. Kyogen is comedy, and it was really funny, but I'm getting ahead here.

So I DO have pictures, but Elizabeth has the pictures of the performances we weren't supposed to take, so I will wait until I have access to them and post them all at once :)

This is a Noh stage:

There is a bridge the actors and musicians come in on, and the part with the pine tree in the background is the main stage where the "action" is. There is not that much action in a Noh play. The music is also nothing you would ever think of when you think of music either. There are 3 drummers and a flute, accomanied with Yoooooooooh! noises from the musicians to keep time and orchestrate in a way. (Julie: Do you remember our Pokemon Stadium game? The mini game where Lickitung ate all the sushi? The Yoh in the beginning of that game is the exact same thing lol)

Anyway, there are very few actors in a Noh play, and the main one wears an elaborate costume and a mask. Supposedly you are supposed to be able to convey expression based on how the actor tips his face/mask, and for the first play I could tell when he was sad actually (it was a tragedy). I enjoyed the first one, a biiit slow but it was easy to follow. It was about 3 people who were exiled, and 2 are pardoned and they have to leave one behind. The plays are in veeeerry old Japanese (like Canterbury Tales equivalent), but we follow along with scripts. It was very sad, but I enjoyed it.

I forgot to mention, the seats were VERY close together, so there was NO knee space. Now, short as I am, this is usually not an issue, but my knee wound is right on my knee, so whenever I bend my knee it hurts, and it was impossible to unbend my knee in these seats. I ended up torquing sideways and half unbending it by Elizabeth because there was no one sitting next to her. I couldn't switch seats with her because the play had already begun.

Anyway, the next performance was the Kyogen, which is a small comedy performed by a few actors, no masks, normal (ish) Japanese, no sadness. It was about a nephew who was pretending to be a demon in order to trick his aunt to give him her homemade sake. It was really fun; I enjoyed it.

And then there was the third play. We had already been watching plays for about two hours mind you. This next play by itself was two hours. It was this really Buddhist-themed play about a woman who is famous because she does a dance about a Mountain Witch, and said Mountain Witch meets her and was like you should sing for me! And she does and the Mountain Witch dances. Noh dances are basically walking around, stomping, and really cool hand movements. I usually like the demon dances, because they typically involve really cool weapon movements that remind me of my kata from karate. However, this play was just long and we had already been there two hours. There was also an "interlude" that was not in the script and it was 20 minutes and no one knew what was going on, they were just talking. Ugh.

But at the veeeeeeeerry end of the dance the Mountain Witch did some kind of flip stomp move that was really cool. That's about it. Haha.

So after four hours of theater-ing, we got to go to dinner, yay! I and about a handful of other students went to a very nice restaurant with our teacher and his wife and another teacher, where we had reeeeeeally good food. First, there was buckwheat tofu. The teachers had never even heard of it. It was sooooo good! I'll doubt I'll ever find it anywhere else again.

Then we had rice, very good shrimp tempura with soba noodles, and green tea mochi. Shrimp tempura is a kind of fried shrimp. Mochi is a dessert form of rice where a special kind of rice is beaten numerous times into  a mush. Sometimes the mochi is filled with things, like ice cream:

Mochi filled with something delicious is called daifuku. It is typically filled with a bean paste.

I have one of those ice cream mochis after dinner most of the time. My freezer is never without them :) So yes, we had a wonderful dinner! Also, the dinner was on tatami mats with cushions to kneel on. Kneeling is fine, we do it in karate all the time, but now when I lack a healthy knee. So no kneeling for me, lol. After a while, no one was kneeling except for one of the teachers, so it really was not a big deal.

And then I had to come home to study for two quizzes. -.-

But it was a very adventurous weekend!


1 comment:

  1. I vaguely remember the minigame, but not the music. It is hilarious that you do.

    With the night you had before it, I would have totally fallen asleep.

    Anyhoo, hope your knee feels better soon :)