A new take on noh

Arts Council Tokyo (ACT) has funded a programme of events designed to promote noh theatre. Taking place on 12 February, the series includes an exhibition, discussion session and a performance.

First up is an exhibition of noh costumes and masks at Nikkei Hall in Tokyo, documenting the genre’s 650-year history. A talk titled Enjoying Noh the Easy Way follows, with Noh performer Kazufusa Hosho and writer Seiko Ito taking part.

The most significant part of ACT’s programme is the presentation of a new noh work: Mizukagami of Noh: Hagoromo. Created by Hosho, Ito and translator Jay Rubin, it explores the meaning and feeling of noh’s original texts.

“There’s so much going on inside the texts of noh,” said Rubin in an interview with The Japan Times. “There’s language play, there are constant puns, one sound will lead to another sound, cleverly linking the words within a phrase.

Noh is the oldest form of theatre still performed today. Developed in the 1300s, it is based on traditional tales and often features supernatural beings taking human form.