Asian Theatre History Theatre 1-2 Christy Moss Fall 2011 General differences between western and eastern theatre The play isn’t written first in Asian theatre. The story isn’t the most important element. Asian theatre is a combination of song, dance, narrative, and great performers (essential). Dancing and acting work together in Asian theatre. Performers come to and move through audience. Noh Drama Most elitist, most exclusive form of drama. Closely related to Zen Buddhism Evokes and uses a sense of mysticism and the supernatural. Term: Yugen- relates to the “total experience” of the Noh play. You must look at the surface as well as what lies beneath. Continued… Play structure: Noh Drama contemplates a past action. The past is reflected by the characters on stage. Mystical: demons and ghosts. Noh Dramas are presented in a 5 play cycle. Each with its own beginning, middle, and end. Continued… Acting roles: Sh’te Primary character The audience is interested in his journey and his emotions. Waki Secondary character Traveling priest Gives audience the exposition and sets up the play Other roles Chorus and musicians Both are seated on stage left or up stage. They are the speakers for the whole play. Continued… Characters usually wear elaborate masks that show the audience the character’s emotions. Continued… Stage Structure Tree Pillars Hurry Door Hashigakari AUDIENCE Continued… Tree is the only fixed piece of scenery Small pine trees are on the bridge (hasigakari) Hurry door: stage left; for unimportant entrances and exits. Hasigakari: Bridge over audience for IMPORTANT entrances and exits. Bunraku Japanese puppet theatre NOT for children Puppets are made of wood or porcelain and are 2/3 human size. They wear Kabuki like costumes. Continued… Puppet Manipulation and Functions of Puppeteers: Puppet is controlled by three puppeteers. 1 for hand inside puppet that controls head and right hand. 1 for left hand and movement of body. 1 for foot movement and sound effects. Puppeteer and puppet become “one.” Puppeteers are masked and wear black. Continued… A single narrator does all of the character voices, sounds, and singing. There is one musician for music. Kabuki Theatre style began toward the end of the 16th Century in Japan. Believed to begin as a woman’s idea. Structure of plays First impact is physical Series of conventions and symbols Lots of movement, sound, and props The fan was the most popular prop: greatest variety of uses Lack of continuous plot; beauty was more important. Elaborate staging. Continued… Dance, song, and narrative are extremely important. Males play both female and male roles, even today! Costume and Make up: No masks Beautiful and elaborate costuming White face, black and red make up used for detailing. Men who played women wore red lips and eyes. Male roles had bold red and black lines on face and body: the bolder, the more powerful. Wigs were made for each actor. Continued… Kabuki uses lots of scenery, like Broadway musicals. THE MIE Mie poses are an important part of kabuki and an indication of the dance origins of its performance. Basically mie poses are a freezing of a climatic moment in several rigid snapshots called mie. A mie pose is a highlight of a kabuki performance. And while the principal actor poses mie, the others on the stage usually stop their movements. The full attention of the audience and the actors is focused on the mie pose. Mie is considered as a challenge for each kabuki actor and can be played only by experienced performers. Continued… Stage Structure: primarily a western style stage. Turn Table Audience Hanamichi Continued… Hanamichi: Bridge over audience. Allows audience to see action next to them. Elaborate scenic devices were used like the turn table. Lots of scenery. Thirty people or more were onstage at any given moment- LARGE PRODUCTION! Beijing Opera (formerly Peking) Structure of performance: Acting, dancing, and singing occurred before the text was performed. Three part performance: Acrobatic displays and dancing/ singing acts. Pantomime act. Text performed. Continued… Acting roles: Sheng: Male lead roles Lao Sheng: old men Xlao Sheng: young men Wu Sheng: Warrior types Tan: Female lead roles Qing Yi: Quiet and gentle Hua Tan: Vivacious Lao Tan: Old Woman Wu Tan: Warrior Maidens Continued… Ching: painted face roles (warriors, bandits, courtiers, officials, gods, and supernatural beings) Ch’ou: Comic or Clown (Uses improvisation) Questions to ponder… What are the major differences between western and Asian theatre? Which form of Asian theatre uses puppetry? What is the point of the mie pose in Kabuki?