16 Years Later

Pine tree detail, Oshima Nohgakudo practice stage.

Contributed by Kristin Jackson.

We are coming to the end of the costume workshop in Fukuyama and it is hard to believe that it was only last Tuesday that we began this incredible journey.  The richness of experience has been overwhelming yet inspiring. My first exposure to Noh began at a TTT Workshop in Kyoto in 1996 and 16 years later I am as thrilled and excited as I was then. The difference is that I have learned, performed (at the summer Noh Training Project at Bloomsburg) and even taught several more shimai, sung more utai and learned how to play (some better than others) the kotsuzumi, otsuzumi, taiko and Nohkan (I don’t know if making a sound once counts).

Workshop participant Kristin Jackson being dressed by Osada-san.

To be dressed in full costume with mask and wig for the first time, however, has further heightened these experiences. Being able to get a sense of what professional actors – like the exquisite performers Oshima Masanobu in “Hyakuman” and Oshima Kinue in “Aoinoue” – must have felt as they traveled down the hashigakari of the Noh stage was humbling. It was equally meaningful to recognize the different pattern designs and styles of costumes that Monica Bethe so eloquently introduced to us in Kyoto. It may take me more time to digest all of this, but suffice it to say that it will nourish me for another 16 years and more!

Kristin Jackson.

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About Theatre Nohgaku

Noh, one of the oldest continuing stage arts, combines highly stylized dance, chant, music, mask and costume with intense inner concentration and physical discipline, creating a uniquely powerful theatrical experience. Theatre Nohgaku’s mission is to share noh’s beauty and power with English speaking audiences and performers. We have found that this traditional form retains its dramatic effectiveness in languages other than Japanese. We believe noh techniques hold a powerful means of expression in the context of contemporary English language theatre.
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