Thoughts on IFTR 2013

20130730-114826.jpgBack from the IFTR 2013 conference at the Institut del Teatre in Barcelona. Spanish organisers Boris Daussà-Pastor and Mercè Saumell did a terrific job coordinating what has been the biggest IFTR ever, with more than 800 participants (!), distinguished keynote speakers and thought-inspiring presentations. Japanese theatre was present in various working groups, not only in the Asian Theatre working group, coordinated by Mōri Mitsuya and Nagata Yasushi, but also in Dance, Theatre and Religion, Theatre Historiography, and others. I particularly appreciated Tsutsumi Harue (Seijo University) on ‘The Production of Hyōryū kitan Seiyō kabuki (The Wanderer’s Strange Story: a Western Kabuki) (1879) and the Journey of Iwakura Embassy (1871-1873) and Hiranoi Chieko (Hosei University) on the ‘History of Local Amateur Kabuki, Ji-shibai, the latter being particularly pertinent to my current work on Noh amateurs. Noh theatre, as expected, only had one representative – myself. My presentation was on the ethical dilemma of a Noh scholar-practitioner who is divided between the loyalty to a teacher and the ethos it represents, and the need for freedom to formulate and express criticism.

The lack of Noh at IFTR cannot but point to the need of a more international (intercultural?) and interdisciplinary approach to Noh in the wider context of theatre and performance studies. We ‘new generation of Noh scholars’ should join forces and open up the knowledge of Noh qua performance, not only as study material for translators and historians.

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