mask revision

The effects masks have on the wearer in both Rituals and Theatre with specific reference to Noh and Kyogen theatre.

 

INTRODUCTION:

 

The mask affects the wearer in both Noh Rituals and Theatre. Noh is an original and independent art form. And the word Noh has a strong meaning. Noh is an original and independent art form. It will overtake the Dengaku, Sarugaku and the other song and dance theatre art form.  The Noh plays incorporates the significant elements of the Dengaku as well as the Sarugaku in both music and dance. Noh was the brainchild of Kwannami Kiyotsugu from the 1333 to 1384 time period. He was a Sarugaku writers. The Noh ritual and theatre art form was later polished with the help of his son Zeami Motokiyo who lived from 1363 to 1443 time period (ShinkŌkai 1960, ix).

 

The Noh mask is used to disguise the natural voice of the actor or actress. The Noh mask is also used to portray another character, for example the samurai legend named Shintaru, in an aural display as it exquisite catapults the audience to Japanese community many decades ago. (Sheppard 2001, 32). The picture below shows a Noh mask.

Exhibit 1

 

Noh Mask

Reference: http://www.noh-masks.com/

 

 

 

 

 

Both the Noh and Kyogen actors feel that they use a mask because the audience should see the person or thing that the mask represents and to cover the identity of the actor and actress behind the mask. Both theatre plays were created in Japan during the fourteenth century. They are both known as the art of Nogaku or simply as Noh and Kyogen. The Noh play is a serious drama that where the movements of the actors and actresses are refined, elegant and with elusively beautiful. The main persons that the actors and actresses portray here are generally taken from Japan’s rich historical past or classical literature. The play uses the medium of song or music and dance. The themes of Noh plays are often related to man’s destiny. This type of play is characterized a simple stage.

(Reference: http://www2.ntj.jac.go.jp/unesco/noh/en/nohgaku.html)

Further, the Kyogen mask is used to hide the person or actor and portray the person depicted by the mask. The Kyogen play is a spoken drama where the crown often laughs at the humorous antics and other comedic renditions of life in Japan six hundred years ago. Expectedly, the Kyogen mask alone looks funny. The Kyogen character has no name because he or she represents a group of people. For example, the Kyogen person represents the typical peasant working in the farm. Or, the Kyogen play represents a soldier in the battle field. The Kyogen mask represents the typical young or old people of Japan. Also, the Kyogen person being the subject of the play is usually a god or deity, spirits of animals and plants, beautiful and ugly people of Japan during that time period six centuries ago. Basically, the Kyogen plays were aimed at making the people laugh during the entire length of the short play. The usual Kyogen character is the funny Taro Kajo (Reference: http://www2.ntj.jac.go.jp/unesco/noh/en/nohgaku.html). Shown below is a picture of a Kyogen mask.

 

Exhibit 2

 

Kyogen Mask

 

Referencc: http://www.nohmask21.com/eu/kyogenmask.html

 

BODY:

 

The mask affects the wearer in both Noh Rituals and Theatre. First, the wearer cannot show his or her expressions with the mask on. Second. The mask will hide the gender of the theatre performer. Third, the minimalist style of vocal and mimetic characterization masks the gender of the theatre performer. Fourth, the mask of the actor or actress in the Noh rituals and theatres forces them to develop powerful technique and devote tremendous concentration to tackle these stage obstacles.

Also, the masks also increase the intensity Noh. Another use of the mask is to improve the theme of the Noh plays.

 

First, the Noh face mask wearer feels that he or she cannot show his or her changing expressions with the mask on. This is an obstacle that mask theatre performer has that actors in non –mask theatre performances do not have. Thus, the Noh ritual and theatre performer feels that his or her audiences will not completely understand what the actors and actresses are trying to communicate to them. According to Nagao Kazuo, one reason for this obstacle is that the mask performance style of the Noh theatre performances is a six hundred year art form. The actors and actresses feel that they mask creates a theatre atmosphere of misunderstanding or misconception. The Japanese term for this is gokai. The Noh performers feel that they have to portray the people living in Japan six hundred year ago. The first Noh performers felt that they were to portray the culture, tradition and lifestyle of the Japanese people of the same time period in the past.  The Noh performers feel that that the current crop of theatre audiences often misunderstand the message or the story that the stage performers try their best to permeate four corners of the entire Noh theatre.  This is because the modern day Japanese as well as foreign Noh audiences do not have an inkling of how the Japanese during the time six hundred years ago have lived, eaten, worked and cared for their family and personal life (Trimillos 1997, 4).

Second. The Noh stage actor or actress feels that the mask hides the gender of the theatre performer.  Clearly, the Noh stage performer feels that the mask will not give away whether the stage performer is a man or woman. In addition, the Noh stage performer feels that the audience will not be able to know whether the actor or the actress is in his teens, in his twenties, in his thirties or ever older with the mask covering the face. In the same manner, the Noh actor or actress feels that his or her physical features behind the mask is more important than the main purposes of the No and Kyogen theatres. The Noh stage performer feels that the mask makes him or her double his or her efforts to paint a quality portrayal of the character envisioned by the play writer in this unique music and dance routine. The Noh stage performer feels that books cannot describe well the Noh music and dance act as well as hearing the music from actual viewing the plays themselves  and seeing the mask themselves(Inoura, and Kawatake 1981, 3).  The Noh performer feels that the mask creates the curiosity in their audiences

in order to learn more about the past and why the mask is very important to cover the Noh performer’s gender. The stage performer feels that the people will be bored if the audience does not know the gender of the audiences.  For, the Noh performer feels that gender is an important miniscule data that is that is needed to give the audience a complete picture of the entire Noh and Kyogen play. Some may say that the gender would be immaterial.   The website http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXNOTFGOP7Y&feature=related shows a Noh actor ( or actress) that moves back and forth in around a small stage floor. The stage actor uses a fan to help him or her communicate to the audience his messages.  There are other members of the cast who are sitting in a circle around the actor. The Noh mask hides the unique physical features of the actor or actress. Also, the robes of the actor or actress in this website does not indicate he or she is a Japanese, Chinese, Korean, American, British, French or Indian performer. Likewise, this website shows that the music is hard to understand because it is in Japanese. This proves that the Noh actor or actress finds that the mask makes him more exhausting to portray the story as well as the play characters to the non –Japanese audiences like the Americans and the European Union residents.

Third, the Noh actor or actress feels that the mask forces him or her to sway back and forth to complement the minimalist style of vocal and mimetic characterization of each performance. The Noh actor or actress feels that the confusing and sleepy effect of the Noh mask can be easily compensated by making the plays shorter in terms of length of play in order to prevent boredom to infect their audiences.  The actor feels that he must muster more than the required effort in each Noh play to overcome the sleep -enticing effect of the single expression of the Noh mask. The Noh actor feels that the mask has lessened the efficacy of the plays in portraying celebrating deities, longevity, poetry, harmony, fertility, exorcism among other lesser themes(Brazell 1998, 36).

Fourth, the actor or actress feels that the Noh mask the Noh and Kyogen theatres forces them to develop powerful technique and devote tremendous concentration to tackle these stage obstacles. The saying a picture paints a thousand words is very with the following picture of a Noh theatre play. A Noh picture is found in the appendix taken from the link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Noh3.jpg. These actors and actresses feel that the powerful techniques that they developed are needed to eliminate the mask’s effects. A good example of the use of the powerful techniques was to depict the theme of religion and Buddha. Buddha is represented by a lion’s mask signifying leadership or kingship (Asai 1999, 32). Buddha is a spiritual leader of India. His followers are led by Buddhist monks. His religion is Buddhism(Griffiths 1994, 36).

On the other hand, some Noh actors feel that the mask increases the intensity of the Noh and Kyogen stories.  They feel that it is wrong to think that masks do not have an effect on the wearer in both the rituals and theatre with specific reference to Noh and Kyogen theatre. For, the actor feels that the mask is the key to the success of each Noh play. The quote

 

“NOH as an independent and original art form…In addition to his dramatic activities, Zeami composed a number of works, the most important of which is called the Kwadensho (the Book of the Flower), or more properly, Fūshi-kwadensho  in which he explained the nature and æsthetic principles governing Noh plays, and gave detailed instructions concerning the manner of composition, acting, direction, and production of these dramas” (ShinkŌkai 1960, ix).

 

 

The above paragraph evidences that the Noh actor or actresses feel that the mask lets him or her become something or someone he or she is not. This is needed to make people patronize this unique Japanese play. The Noh actor or actress feels that the mask is used improve the theme of the Noh plays. For, the Noh actor and actress feels that the mask is needed to shut himself or herself out of the scene because the theme of the entire play is centered around the character or a skills and not the actor or the actress. For, the Noh actor and actresses feel that the main purpose of the Noh play is to successfully open the mind of the audiences to open their ear to the music and lessons that portrays the lives of the people that lived in Japan six hundred years ago and not to prop the Noh actor or actress up(ShinkŌkai 1960, ix).    And, the actors and actresses feel that the Noh mask is used to increase the quality of the play.

 

 

One crucial form of masked performance remains to be introduced – a form that can be dubbed as acoustic, musical or vocal masking.. The alteration of the human face by a mask often entails an alteration of the human face by a mask often entails an alteration of the human voice. When the mouth is covered by the mask, vocal sounds acquire a deeper, more resonant tone. The masked voice generally sounds distanced and somewhat bigger than life. For example, the over the head masks of ancient Greek theatres that functioned as sound boxes for the performer and allowed the actor’s voice to resound with the power of a god or a mythic hero. In the Noh performances, the masks are valued for their subtle aesthetic influence on the voice. The voice resounding from the mask is used to show that the mask’s voice originated from another world. In the Noh ritual performances, the invoked deity the mask is necessary to show that it is deity and not the actor or actress that is speaking. The Noh mask is used to disguise the natural voice of the actor or actress. The Noh mask is also used to portray another character, for example the samurai legend named Shintaru, in an aural display as it exquisite catapults the audience to Japanese community many decades ago. (Sheppard 2001, 32). The picture below shows a Noh mask.

Exhibit 1

 

 

Noh Mask

Reference: http://www.noh-masks.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The mask affects the wearer in both Kyogen Rituals and Theatre.

 

 

BODY:

 

The mask affects the wearer in both Kyogen Rituals and Theatre (7 pages). First, the wearer cannot show his or her expressions with the mask on. Second. The mask will hide the gender of the theatre performer. Third, the minimalist style of vocal and mimetic characterization masks the gender of the theatre performer. Fourth, the mask of the actor or actress in the Noh rituals and theatres forces them to develop powerful technique and devote tremendous concentration to tackle these stage obstacles.

Also, the masks also increase the intensity Noh. Another use of the mask is to improve the theme of the Noh plays (Foley 2007).

 

First, the Kwogen performer feels that the mask hides his or her expressions with the mask on. This is a hindrance that the Kyogen comedy theatre performer has that actors in non –mask theatre performances do not have. Thus, the Kwogen ritual and theatre feels that his or her audiences will not completely understand what the actors and actresses are trying to communicate to them. According to Nagao Kazuo, one reason for this obstacle is that the mask performance style of the Kyogen stage performer is that Kyogen was created at the same time Noh rituals and theatres were created. This creation  happened  six hundred years ago. The actors and actresses feel that the Kyogen mask creates a theatre atmosphere of misunderstanding or misconception. The Japanese term for this is gokai. The Kyogen performers feel that the mask helps them portray the people living in Japan many centuries ago. The Kyogen performers back then felt that they were tasked to portray the culture, tradition and lifestyle of the Japanese people of the same time period in the past.  The Kyogen performers feel that the mask complicates the unfolding  story onstage. For, both the modern day Japanese audience as well as foreign Kyogen audiences do not have a small knowledge of how the Japanese during the time six hundred years ago have lived, eaten, worked and cared for their family and personal life (Trimillos 1997, 4).

Second. The Kyogen stage performers feel that the mask hides the gender of the theatre performer. For, the stage performer feels that the sex of the person is an essential part of the entire theatre scene. In addition, the Kyogen performer feels that the audience will not be able to know whether the stage performer is in his teens, in his twenties, in his thirties or ever older with the mask covering the face. For, the stage performers feel that they have to also show to the audience that the person or character they are portraying is young, old, fat, thin, white, black, yellow, male or female to make the story telling more complete or convincing. The Kyogen performer feels that the mask them double their efforts to portray the same quality of plays as compared with a play where the mask is not part of the show. In addition, the Kyogen actor and actress feels that books cannot describe well the Kyogen conversational comedy act. The audience has to actually see a live Kyogen performance to appreciate everything. (Inoura, and Kawatake 1981, 3).  The Kyogen stage players feel that the mask creates the curiosity in their audiences to learn more about the past and why the mask is very important to cover the Kyogen performer’s gender. For, the Kyogen stage people feel that gender cannot be left out of the story. On the other hand, some quarters decry that the stage performer’s gender would be immaterial.  Also, the robes of the Kyogen actor or actress in this website does not indicate he or she is a Japanese, Chinese, Korean, American, British, French or Indian performer. This proves that the Kyogen stage performers feels that the mask make them exhausted to portray the story  in order to successfully make the audience laugh.

Third, the Kyogen stage performers feel that the mask forces them to sway back and forth to complement the minimalist style of vocal and mimetic characterization of each performance. These Kyogen stage performers feel that the difficulty to convey their message across to the audience must be compensated by making the plays shorter in terms of length of play. The Kyogen stage performers feel that the mask has lessened the efficacy of the plays in portraying the ordinary peasants and everyday person in the Japanese community back then (Brazell 1998, 36). In the Kyogen play, the stage performers cannot use their faces to show a funny, happy, smiling or other facial expressions.

Fourth, the Kyogen stage performers feel that the mask forces them to develop powerful technique and devote tremendous concentration to tackle these stage obstacles. These stage performers feel that the powerful techniques that they developed are needed to eliminate the mask’s effect of having only one facial expression throughout the play. (Asai 1999, 32).

On the other hand, some Kyogen stage performers feel that the mask increases the intensity of the Kyogen comedy skits. Evidently, the mask creates both a positive and a negative effect on the wearer in the ritual and theatre plays. For, the Kyogen performer feels that the mask is the key to the success of each Kyogen play.      The Kyogen stage performer feels that the mask lets them become something or someone they are not. They feel that the mask makes their play more hilarious or funny. And the stage performers fell that the mask is needed to make people this patronize this unique Japanese play. For, the Kyogen stage performers feels that the mask is needed to shut themselves out of the scene because the theme of the entire play is centered around the funny person or soldier that represents each one of the Kyogen play audiences. For, the Kyogen stage performers feel that the main purpose of the Noh play is to successfully open the mind of the audiences to open their ear to the extremely funny antics and words that spun by them on the simple stage. For, the Kyogen play portrays the lives of the people that lived in Japan six hundred years ago and not to prop the Kyogen actor or actress up(ShinkŌkai 1960, ix). Truly, the Kyogen stage performers feel that the Kyogen mask is used to increase the quality of the play.

The Kyogen stage performer feels that the mask will help improve the play because the mask complements the stage performance in terms acousticity, musicality and vocal quality. The stage performers feel that the alteration of the human face by a mask entails a corresponding alteration of the human voice. For, the mask filters the natural human voice of the Kyogen stage performer and converts it into a better sounding act. This is the secret ingredient that makes the Kyogen play a good theatre play to watch. The mask are then valued by the stage performers for this reason alone. For, the Kyogen mask is used to produce a sound that is not the sound of the Kyogen stage performer but of the person pictured in the Noh and Kyogen face masks. (Sheppard 2001, 32).

 

CONCLUSION

 

The stage performers feel that the Noh and Kyogen theatre can be defined as a small and confined arena where actors perform. The stage performers hide behind masks. They move around in the small stage in mime perfection. The Noh and Kyogen theatres’ stage effects are often described as scarce. The Noh and Kyogen performers take away the barriers between the visible and the invisible.  The stage perfomers of both the Noh and Kyogen stage plays feel that the masks have an effect on the wearer in both rituals and theatre with specific reference to Noh and Kyogen theatre. The stage performers feel that the mask Noh and Kyogen masks definitely hides the stage performers’ facial expressions in both the rituals and theatre plays. The stage performers feel that the audience will not know if the person depicted by the stage performer is happy, sad, smiling or just plain angry because the mask is an obstacle to be hurdled. The mask also covers the actor’s and the actress’ expression that she is mad. Second. Also, the stage performers feel that the mask will hide the gender of the theatre performers. Thus, the audience will not know whether the stage performer is a male or a female. The stage performer feels that the audience must add the sex of the person acting in order to show that the play centers on a male or a female character in history, literature or other sources. For, they feel that the secrecy of the actor’s sex would also confuse some of the audiences’ interpretation of the story unfolding onstage. Fourth, the stage performers in both the Kyogen and Noh plays feel that the mask affects their performance because the stage performer must employ a minimalist style of vocal and mimetic characterization that masks (hides) the gender, physical features (fat or thin, young or old, etc) of the theatre performer. The stage performers feel that the above effects of the mask can be curtailed by making the plays shorter in terms of length of the play. The Noh and Kyogen plays are very popular because they stories are unfolded in a short time periods. For, the stage performers of the Noh and Kyogen plays feel that the singular expression of the Noh and Kyogen masks  easily bores their audiences.

Conclusively, the stage performers in both the Noh and Kyogen theatres feels that the mask forces them to develop powerful onstage projection and acting techniques and to devote tremendous concentration to tackle the mask’s effect of hiding the stage performers’ facial and other related expressions. And. the stage performers feel that the mask forces them to develop the powerful stage acting and projection techniques in order to give a performance that the audience agreeably understands. A good example of the use of the powerful techniques was to depict the theme of religion and Buddha in the Noh plays. The mask will be a picture of Buddha so that the people will see Buddha and not the actor doing the Buddha part. On the other side of the fence, the stage performer of the Kyogen play feels that they needs the help of the mask to successfully increase the hilariousness of the stage performance. For, the stage performers feel that the mask is an obstacle that must be overcome by using the power techniques in both the Noh and Kyogen play. (Asai 1999, 32).  The stage performers feel that the use of the mask is needed to improve the theme of the Noh and Kyogen plays. For, the picture of the person depicted by mask will add intensity to the play. The stage performers feel that the mask in both the Noh and Kyogen plays will trigger the audience to forget the stage performers because what they see is the face mask of the person depicted by the Noh and Kyogen story. It is unquestionably true that the mask affects the wearer in both Rituals and Theatre with specific reference to Noh and Kyogen theatre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

 

 

Asai, Susan M. 1999. Nomai Dance Drama: A Surviving Spirit of Medieval Japan. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=9609613.

 

Brazell, Karen, ed. 1998. Traditional Japanese Theater: An Anthology of Plays. New York: Columbia University Press. http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=99574419.

 

Foley, Kathy. 2007. The Kyogen of Errors. Asian Theatre Journal 24, no. 1: 284+. http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5018928873.

 

Griffiths, Paul J. 1994. On Being Buddha : The Classical Doctrine of Buddhahood /. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=102489262.

 

Inoura, Yoshinobu, and Toshio Kawatake. 1981. The Traditional Theater of Japan. New York: Weatherhill. http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=96907323.

 

Roper, Lyndal. 1994. Oedipus and the Devil:  Witchcraft, Sexuality, and Religion in Early Modern Europe. New York: Routledge. http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=107672325.

 

Sheppard, W. Anthony. 2001. Revealing Masks:  Exotic Influences and Ritualized Performance in Modernist Music Theater. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=105709200.

 

ShinkŌkai, Nippon Gakujutsu. 1960. The Noh Drama. Rutland, VT: Charles E. Tuttle Co. http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=101460784.

 

Trimillos, Ricardo D. 1997. No and Kyogen in the Contemporary World. Ed. James R. Brandon. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press. http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=2969444.

 

NOH & KYOGEN mask : Retrieved Jan 9, 2008,

< http://www2.ntj.jac.go.jp/unesco/noh/en/nohgaku.html>

 

 

Noh mask, Retrieved Jan 9, 2008, http://www.noh-masks.com/

 

Kyogen Mask, Retreived Jan 9, 2008,

<Http://www.nohmask21.com/eu/kyogenmask.html>

 

 

 

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