You are on page 1of 2


H istory of NOH
Noh is a poetic dance-drama performed in
ancient Japanese language with highly ritualized

movements. Noh was original called sangaku and
was brought over from China 1,300 years ago, then
it merged with Japanese comic theater and became
a new form of entertainment called sarugaku.

It featured short dances and skits, consisting of
impersonations and plays on words.
By around the thirteenth century, several
professional sarugake troupes sprung up. The skits
grew into longer stories, and the songs and dances
became more sophisticated. Another big changes
came in the mid-fourteenth century, when Kan’ami
(1333-1384) and his gifted son, Zeami (1363-1443)

turned sarugaku into an art form called noh.
Dan’ami introduced complex rhythms to replace
a monotonous singing style, and developed a very

advanced philosophy. Zeami went even further,
writing and performing in plays that touched and
deeply moved those who saw them.
Although noh has evolved since then, the basic
shape and style hasn’t changed all that much.
Kan’ami and Zeami won a wide following--among
not only the villagers but also the country’s most
powerful politicians.

The country’s modernization drive following the
Meiji Restoration (1868) nearly killed noh, since
the nation’s leaders rejected everything associated
with the samurai. Noh also faced a crisis during
Sun Art Center
and after World War II. But the tireless energy of a Sunset East Blvd. 123
few dedicated noh artists saved it from extinction, Hollywood, CA 39254
and it is beginning to win a new, wider following. Phone: 555-777-555
In May 2001 it gained worldwide recognition when Email:
the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Web site: www.
Cultural Organization proclaimed it as one of 19
“masterpieces of intangible heritage.”
Before World War II, women were not allowed to
perform noh, but today there are more and more
women professionals. There are also a rising
number of overseas performances, and it’s not rare
for the audience to include many foreigners.
Traditional Drama
T okyo Edo Drama Group
Tokyo Edo Drama Group was found on September thirteen performing artists, twelve from Japan and “....The magic quality of Noh is not
10, 1920, by Master Akira Matsui. It is one of the one from France. only visual. The reverberations of the
oldest professional noh performance groups in Japan. Five leading noh professional performers and four rhythms that hold the magic of Noh
In 1980, the group was handed to Master Matsui’s Noh musicians, will be putting the final touches in music and the feeling of rapture we
son, Maibayashi Matsui. Tokyo Edo Drama Group 2005 special world tour performance. might even call religious brought on by
has been awarded with the hightest honor theater gold the unison singing of the chorus serve
group for the past conserctive five years in Japan. to separate the consciousness of the
Mr. Matsui has been educated in the University of audience from reality.”
from left to right:
Southern California with a MA degree of Theater - TIME Magazine, Paul Smith -
Director:Maibayashi Matsui
Art. He is the poineer of taking the noh performance
Performers: Jiichi Asami, Herosa Takahashi,
outside of Japan, from West Coast to East Coast of
Hiroshi Morioka,Yumeja Suzuki, Sato Yagata
America, from Germany to England
in the past ten years. He also servers
as a director of group.
Tokyo Edo Drama Group has been
in residency at Tokyo since 1940
and it currently has 54 members and

N Oh masks
Japanese masks are part of a highly young woman is one of the most challenging for any
T our Schedule

developed theatrical tradition. Their actor. The masks are comparatively small and they Date Auditorium Location
purpose was once strictly religious only cover the front of the face having only small
but this changed long ago. The Noh holes for eyes, nostrils and mouth.
mask is said to be the most artistic Often after an actor donning his sumptuous costume,
of all Japanese masks.
10/22-10/30 Royce Hall USC L.A., CA
he seats himself before a mirror and studies the
Masks play a very important part mask, becoming one with the character he is about to
of creating a striking performance. perform. The mask is then tied onto his head, any wig Kennedy Art
11/04-11/13 Washington, DC
Masks are only worn by the main or necessary headgear is put on and he stands before a Center
character, his mask would stylize full-length mirror letting the mask takes over his own
the person it represents and show personality before he is led to the stage.
them in a truer light than reality 11/19-11/30 Eisen Theater Chicago, Illinois
Noh masks have to be very light because they are
could do by depicting only the worn throughout a performance that lasts for several
absolutely essential traits of hours. They are carved from one piece of cypress New York Art New York City,
character. There are five categories 12/06-12/12
of Noh masks: gods, demons, men,
wood. After the masks has been carved to the desired Center New York
thickness, holes for eyes, nose and mouth have been
women and the elderly. cut, it is then coated with layers of gesso mixed with • All performances will start at 6 pm and end at 9 pm with a 15 minutes
The masks used in Noh theatre generally show a glue. This coating is then sanded down, giving the break in the mid-session.
neutral expression so it is up to the skill of the actor mask its final shape. Finally it is painted in the colors • For play details please visit www.sunart/
to bring the mask to life through his acting. The parts prescribed for the particular character and some parts • For ticket reservations please contact
are all acted by men, so the task of performing as a of it might be gilded. or 1-800-365-3345