Contributed by Rinde Eckert
[Editor’s note: Rinde Eckert is a 2007 Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama and the Obie Award-winning creator of “And God Created Great Whales.” A writer and composer, he shares the below reflections about his experience with the Noh Training Project 2013.]
I came here to see what a 650 year old art form could teach me. No. I came here to be humbled by the depth of this ancient practice. No. I came here to be reminded of the sacred. No. I came here to simply be amazed. No. I came here to be inspired. No. I came without knowing precisely why I’d come.
All my evasions and judgments and descriptions become exposed as the inadequate postures they are as I try to perform these ancient steps, to move in this ancient way, to sing these ancient songs. And, no, I’m not so much learning here as I am becoming, becoming more and less. One puts on the mask and one understands.
There is less of me now than there was when I started two and a half weeks ago. Certain things, it seems, have to drop away to get to what noh is. At this juncture I know very little, and I’m grateful for the little I know.
We move as if carrying the weight of something grand, as if heaviness and lightness are just the sad preoccupations of … no. We move as if the weight of our costume is nothing. No, as if in supporting the ancient mask we are the living ghost of a single place and all places, as if the word and the dance had always been there, is always there.
I am not light enough yet to carry this weight, but I see the light. No. I sense the light. No. I don’t know where I am now, what noh is. I have not learned the dance yet, don’t know it, can’t know it. I’m too big, too old, too western, too weak, too distracted, too stiff, too heavy, too tall, still…still, I put on my white socks, raise my fan, and there I am, and not, and there noh is, and not.