Oshima Noh Theatre of Hiroshima & Theatre Nohgaku Present Kiyotsune & Pagoda

Oshima Noh Theatre of Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan, and Theatre Nohgaku, based in Tokyo and New York, present a joint production of classical and contemporary noh theatre: Kiyotsune & Pagoda at Southbank Centre.

From 2nd to 10th December 2009 Kiyotsune & Pagoda, will tour London, Dublin, Oxford and Paris.

Dating back seven centuries, Noh is a classical Japanese performance combining elements of dance, drama, poetry and music. Featuring elaborate costumes and masks, it is a highly aesthetic stage art. 

This is a rare opportunity to watch a performance of Japanese Noh theatre in the UK, in a unique production featuring an extract from the classical warrior play KIYOTSUNE, combined with  the world premiere of PAGODA, a new English-language Noh play that poetically reflects  the emotional nuances of migration, identity and longing.

This will be the first time a strictly English-language noh play has been written by a British playwright and produced in Europe as a complete noh performance.

The production will be performed in London and Oxford as part of the Japan-UK 150 Festival celebrations, and in Dublin and Paris to complete a two-week tour to Europe.

PAGODA, written by Jannette Cheong, with music by Richard Emmert, founder of Theatre Nohgaku, is a multicultural theatre project that brings together a centuries’ old Japanese theatre tradition and a contemporary British – Chinese story to create a powerful performance which shares ideas, explores traditions and investigates the themes of identity and migration. Both the actors and the audiences will experience a classical art form and gain an understanding of how traditions from another age and culture resonate with contemporary issues.

This is an international collaboration that brings together the skills and talents of these two theatre companies for the first time to produce and perform both the classical noh play, and a new English-language noh play. Masanobu OSHIMA, head of the OSHIMA NOHGAKU will play the lead role in KIYOTSUNE. Kinue OSHIMA, the only professional female performer in the Kita School, will play the lead role in PAGODA.

Twenty-six people are involved with the tour, including the mask-maker, the writer, and the Japanese producer.

The tour will also include “Getting to Noh”, a programme of school-based and public workshops, lectures, and other educational activities to introduce the history, structure, dance, music, costumes and masks of noh theatre to a new audience.

Emeritus Professor of Japanese Theatre Studies, Brian Powell said: “Punning on the name ‘noh’ (Getting to Noh) has a distinguished history. In 1916 W.B. Yeats arranged publication of a book of noh translations entitled ‘Certain Noble Plays of Japan.’ To Yeats noh was aristocratic and mysterious. It was aristocratic because for three hundred years in Japan noh had mainly been performed privately before very select audiences, and it was mysterious because its patrons favoured the spirituality imparted to noh by its great pioneer Zeami (1363-1443). But in Zeami’s day, noh companies competed strenuously against each other for popularity and like any other theatre were judged on their ability to move their audiences. Noh is simply theatre with a particular way of engaging its audience and I hope you will find that Jannette Cheong and Rick Emmert have succeeded in combining classical form with compelling content. The dancing, the music, the chanting, the poetry, the mystery are all there in Pagoda, but, as you admire the virtuosity of the performers, you are allowed to shed a tear too for Meilin”.

 For more information, go visit www.southbankcentre.co.uk

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