Matsugami Noh Group
St. Paul-Nagasaki Sister City Committee
Minneapolis-Ibaraki City Cultural Association
Bloomington-Izumi Sister City Committee
Normandale Community College
are proud to present:
"A rare opportunity to witness Japan's oldest form of living theater drama, dating to the late 14th Century"
THE SUGIURA KANZE NOH THEATER TROUPE Featuring: Motosaburo Sugiura, declared a National Cultural Treasure of Japan, and 17 professional actors from the Kanze School, the largest Noh school in Japan, with history dating to the 14th century.
Performing: Maibayashi ("Takasago"), Kyogen ("Kaminari") and Noh ("Aoi no Ue")
Viewer and Educator reviews: "Many thanks for the excellent videotape of the Sugiura Kanze Noh Theatre Troup's performances--I've finally had a chance to view it. I requested a copy for use in my Early Drama East & West course at Fordham University. The quality of the tape is excellent--better than others I've used; and the performances (and choice of texts) are splendid--this is a very high-level company (e.g. the extraordinary quality of the chant in Takasago). The video is especially helpful since I have often used Aoi-no-Ue to introduce the Noh to undergrad students: it serves to illustrate the use of masks and costume in a highly theatrical way, the structure of the drama and use of stage space, Noh's links to the Tales of Genji, Buddhist ideas and so on. We do a segment on comedy too, and I will certainly use Kaminari as one of my illustrations--great Thunder God! Too, I thought the introduction included at the end was very helpful, and I will use it separately to introduce costuming and its symbolism, and the musicians and music. Thanks again for your help, and I hope many people have sought out copies from you.
M F, 25 May, 2002
"I thought the videotape was great. It was really interesting to see a piece in its entirety and get a sense of its rhythm and scope. There were only brief excerpts of performances in the other tapes I found. Very beautiful. And fascinating to watch how the movement flowed over the course of the piece."
JJ, Researcher, New Line Cinema. 8 August, 2001
Introduction to Noh and Kyogen (35 min)
Mr. Kawamura, Noh Actor explains about Noh and Kyogen with a demonstration of Noh song, Noh dance and Noh musical.
Noh Drama With 600 Vears of history dating from the time of Kan-ami and
Ze-ami, Noh is Japan's classical theater art of extreme refinement
and symbolism. -There are more than 200 different plays in
existence today. Noh is highly stylized, employing song, dance,
masks and elaborate costumes. The audience tries to hear the "cry
of soul" in the very subtle movements of the actors.
There are five schools of Noh actors, i.e., Kanze, Komparu, Hosho,
Kongo and Kita, of which Kanze is the largest.
Kyogen drama This form of comic drama emerged from SARUGAKU, an earlier
tradition which included acrobatics, juggling, magic and comic
imitations. Like Noh, Sarugaku dates to the mid- 14th century.
Kyogen drama is an independent comic piece traditionally
performed between two separate Noh performances. Kyogen
drama is the opposite of Noh drama in almost every respect. It
draws on the real world for material and does not idealize
characters; instead, portraying their weaknesses with compassion,
subtlety and humor. The Okura, Sagi and Izumi Schools preserve
Maibayashi: "Takasago" Maibayashi is Noh Dance vath music to highlight part of a Noh
story with formal Japanese dressing. "Takasago" is a full Noh
story portraying a happy and long life.
Kyogen: "Kaminari (God of Thunder)" A quack doctor travels to the countryside since no one in the
capital city trusts his practices. En route, the sky darkens
suddenly with thunder and the god of thunder falls to the earth,
hurting his back in the fall. The god finds a doctor in a corner and
runs after the quack for treatment, but the quack does not want to
treat a god for fear of treatment failure! Since one can not actually
say no to a god, the quack decides to treat the god with
acupuncture. Every time he pricks the needle with hammer,
the god feels great pain. However, it works after all, so the quack
requests payment. Alas!, the god brought no money with him, so
he proposes to pay when he returns to the earth. The quack
realizes this will only mean strong thunder again, so he asks the
god for protection from drought and flood to insure good rice
harvests. The god grants his wish and promises to make him head
of the doctors in the royal court! Viola! The god returns to heaven
and leaves the quack to his quackery ways.
Noh: "A-o-i no U-e (Lady Aoi)" < Part I >
The Lady Aoi, the legal wife of Prince Genji, is bedridden with
illness in the imperial court. This is manifested by a folded
Kimono-costume placed on the stage. A shaman is called to
determine Lady Aoi's mysterious illness. Using a magic bow of
catalpa wood, the shaman searches for the evil spirit. Suddenly,
the spirit of lady Rokujyo, the former mistress of Prince Genji,
appears on the stage to express her deep jealousy to Lady Aoi-
Lady Rokujyo has possessed lady Aoi's body with her violent hate
for her. Unable to free herself from passionate jealousy, she beats
Lady Aoi (symbolized with the Kimono on the stage) with closed
fan. The shaman cries out to drive the spirit away. The servant of
Lady Aoi realizes she is in worse condition and needs a priest to
exorcise the evil spiijt.
< Part II >
The priest prays to exorcise the spirit, however, the Lady Rokujyo
has become a ferocious demon (symbolized with new mask and
costume) and tries to beat Lady Aoi. The priest prays the demon
will release Lady Aoi. After a great struggle between the demon and
the priest, finally the priest subdues the demon.
In addition to the event sponsors, we offer sincere thanks to everyone involved in the creation of this extraordinary event; especially Members of Matsugami Noh Class of Osaka, Radisson Hotel South & Tower Plaza, Decadance Productions, Ticket Works, Stockwalk.com, Volunteers of Normandale Community College, and Coordination Volunteers: T.Murakawa / K. Matsugami (Japan) & Keith M.Collis (USA).
Kanze Noh video
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For more on Japanese culture: See online program with Quicktime video clips about the Arts of Japan at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The original interactive program and video for museum was produced and directed by Mark Stanley.