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Friday, March 3, 2006


Access to comic noh drama gets easier

Setagaya Public Theatre's next program in its kyogen (comic drama) series, "The Kyogen Theatre Vol. 3.," runs March 2 through March 12.

News photo
Mansaku Nomura (left) and Mansai Nomura, who are taking part in 'The Kyogen Theatre Vol. 3' YASUHIDE KUGE PHOTO COURTESY OF SETAGAYA PUBLIC THEATRE

Along with noh and kabuki, kyogen remains very much one of the active traditional Japanese performing arts. It was established in the Muromachi Period (1392-1573), but reached the peak of its popularity in the early Edo Period (1603-1867). Compared to the spiritual, elegant but intensly stylized dancing and chanting of noh, kyogen is a more overtly theatrical form, rich in down-to-earth, comical plots and taking inspiration from everyday life.

With the traditional performing arts usually marginalized to select theaters like Ginza's Kabuki-za, Mansai Nomura, the artistic director of the Setagaya Public Theatre (SEPT), and a leading kyogen actor himself, decided when he took on the job in 2002 to make it one of his aims to open up the world of kyogen to ordinary theatergoers. To do so, he created a special, traditional noh stage, planting it in SEPT's modern setting. For this third program of SEPT's kyogen series under Nomura's tenure, there is an added bonus of special performances with English subtitles.

"The Kyogen Theatre Vol.3" runs March 2-12 (2 p.m. and 7 p.m.) at the Setagaya Public Theatre, close to Sangenjaya Station on the Denentoshi or Setagaya lines. Two programs, each comprising three short performances, will run each day. Peformances with English subtitles are on March 8 (7 p.m.) and March 9 (2 p.m.). Tickets are 4000 yen and 7,000 yen. For more details call, SEPT at (03) 5432-1526 or visit www.setagaya-ac.or.jp/sept

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