Handcrafted

Contributed by David Surtasky

After listening to and participating in the recent costume workshop, one can’t help but be struck by the high degree of skill, artistry and craftsmanship brought to bear in order to allow a single shite actor to take the stage.


In western commercial theater there is also great skill; but the costume designer is seldom going to have the fabric woven to order. Nor will the costume typically be built in such a way as to last 100 years, or such intricate attention to detail given to garments worn as an under layer.


From the people who cultivate the silk worms, to the makers of the thread, the dyers, the weavers, the sewers, the stencilers, the gold thread makers, the embroiderers, the costume maker, the tabi maker, the mask carver, the wig maker and finally to the actor – all of the shear human endeavor that has gone into the creation of one unique character for one unique moment on stage is, on the face of it, unprecedented in most artistic forms.


It was impressive to think about this long chain of work and activity that allowed the audience to experience a series of singular moments hewn in linear time. That we were permitted to see just a small part of this great chain was humbling and inspiring. I think it is everyone’s hope at Theatre Nohgaku that we’ll be permitted the opportunity to share these experiences with other people again in the future.

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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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