Tag Archives: Kiyotsune

Noh Kiyotsune with English subtitles in Tokyo

Tessenkai is producing a special event in Tokyo on March 25th (details below) featuring the noh Kiyotsune. On the day of the performance, the audience will be able to follow the action on the scene while reading subtitles appearing directly on personal tablets or smartphones via an app. The service is provided by Hinoki Shoten, publisher of noh books. I took care of the English edition of the subtitles.

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Kiyotsune seen by Stéphane Barbery

Kyoto-based French photographer Stéphane Barbery has worked with a number of Noh actors in Kyoto over the past few years, and has developed a special eye for capturing meaningful moments in the performance. Photographers working with Noh have to endure the torment of being assigned a fix position from where they can only shoot using a powerful zoom, hence losing much of the tridimensionality that the Noh stage in particular is able to convey to its audience. Stéphane mostly works with B&W which allows him to sharpen details and recreate depth even in low light conditions. I am sure you will agree he has done a wonderful job.

I am reposting a couple of stills from Kiyotsune (both the performance and the dress rehearsal) but I invite you to visit his Flickr page to see more of his amazing work!

Enjoy!

Diego

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Moshiawase donning

After Kiyotsune

Kongo Noh Theatre. Lights out.
Kongo Noh Theatre. Lights out.

I would like to thank all those who came to see my performance of Kiyotsune on June 29th 2013 at the Kongo Noh Theatre in Kyoto, as well as those who supported from a distance but who could not make it to Japan.

It is hard to describe my feelings now that this pivotal event in my personal life and in the history of the International Noh Institute is over. The night before the performance I was preparing my bag with all the necessary clothing and accessory, including dōgi padded undergarment and eri collars, and felt like packing the night before leaving for a long trip. Or maybe Kiyotsune himself was packing his bag, about to take his leave from my room, and from my teacher’s okeikoba, where we lived together during the year of preparation that preceded the performance. Although in Noh there isn’t the same kind of psychological research on the character that you would have in other performance methods, I have become accustomed to live with Kiyotsune… but now Kiyotsune has left, only to live again through someone else’s body. Anyhow, I should not think of it as something belonging to an isolated past, because past things shape our present, and future, too.

Today I was asked by a friend how I felt after the performance. I realised that a Noh performance is like a marriage ceremony. It is a very important event, to which family and friend partake, celebrating a vow of faithfulness and dedication. But the ceremony only lasts one day. What really counts is all the effort behind and before it, and the new path ahead.

Kei’un-kai, INI Gala Recital 2013 *full programme*

June 29~30 (Saturday and Sunday), 2013

Kongo Nohgakudo, Karasuma Ichijo-sagaru, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto 602-0912
Tel: 075 -441-7222

Please join us at the Kongo Nohgakudo for an opportunity to experience Noh in a variety of forms: shimai, dance excerpts; Maibayashi, dance excerpts with the accompaniment of the Noh ensemble of instruments as well as the chorus; Rengin, concert style performance of a Noh excerpt performed by students in formal kimono and hakama; and 3 fully costumed Noh performances each day.

• Descriptions of the content of each piece will be available in programs provided in English, French, German and Italian.
• The recital is free of charge and open to all. We look forward to seeing you at the Nohgakudo.

Day I Featuring International Noh Institute Students

June 29th (Saturday)

(from about 11.00am)

仕舞 Shimai dance excerpts in formal wear performed to the accompaniment of a small chorus.

舞囃子 Maibayashi excerpt to the accompaniment of the Noh ensemble and chorus:
「胡 蝶」KOCHO ‘The Butterfly’ shite: Cristina Picelli.

Bangai-Shimai Dances by professional Noh performers (UDAKA Tatsushige and UDAKA Norishige):
「加 茂」KAMO
「玉之段」TAMA-NO-DAN

(from about 12:00, noon)
Noh:『清経』KIYOTSUNE Shite: Diego Pellecchia Tsure: Monique Arnaud.

(about 1:20 p.m.)
Rengin concert-style recitation of an excerpt from a Noh.

Bangai-Shimai (performed by UDAKA Michishige):
「鉄 輪」KANAWA

(from about 2:00 p.m.)
Noh:『小鍛冶』 KOKAJI ‘The Swordsmith’ Shite: SOMYO Tadasuke

(from about 3:20 p.m.)
Shimai, dance excerpts

(from about 4:00 p.m.)
Noh: 『猩 々』SHOJO Shite: HIRASAWA Yumiko

Day II Featuring Keiun-kai Students

June 30th (Sunday)

Rengin concert-style recitation of an excerpt from a Noh

(from about 11:20 p.m.)
Shimai

(about 11:40 p.m.)
Noh: 『羽 衣・盤渉』HAGOROMO Banshiki ‘The Robe of Feathers’ Shite: ITOH Yuki

Maibayashi excerpt with the accompaniment of the Noh ensemble:
「融」TORU

(about 1:00 p.m.)
Shimai

Rengin concert style recitation of an excerpt from a Noh.

Bangai Shimai(performed by UDAKA Michishige):
「藤 戸」FUJITO

(from about 2:00 p.m.)
Noh: 『黒塚・白頭』KUROZUKA ‘The Black Mound’ Hakutoh Shite: KUROTAKE Sadato

(from about 3:10 p.m.)
Maibayashi excerpt with the accompaniment of the Noh ensemble:
「松 風」MATSUKAZE
Shimai

(from about 4:00 p.m.)
Noh: 『猩 々』SHOJO Shite: NAGAO Atsushi

*Feel free to come and go quietly as you please during the recital.
*Be sure your cell phone is set on silent or manner mode.
*You may take pictures, but the use of flash is strictly prohibited.
*Please enjoy the tea and sweets provided.

Practice notes #3 technique

photo-1Technique is what is left when you turn off emotions. Knowing every step of the dance, every modulation of the chant, understanding the meaning of each word and movement… none of this is really helpful on stage unless you have real control of the switch between emotion and technique. This ability cannot be acquired through intellectual understanding. Odd as it may seem, I feel it is more of a physical condition than a mental one.

This is why there is no shortcut to true skill. No intensive workshop. No crash course. Physical practice requires time. A matter of choice, I guess.

Practice notes #2 movement and costume

photo-1Today I had okeiko with my teacher’s eldest son Udaka Tatsushige. He gave me precise instructions about various moments of the play which I need to improve. Among all suggestion there is one thing I need to be particularly aware of: if my movements are too dynamic or extreme, if they are too ‘expressive’, it will be to the detriment of the costume. Reflecting on this I realised how much the costume, along with the mask, already does a lot of the narration just by being there on stage. It is important to establish a good relationship with the costume, restraining your movement, compressing your energy. If your acting crosses the line, the costume will disappear, only your movements will be visible. The costume has been perfected through centuries to serve its expressive purpose on stage: let’s make sure it has enough room to say what it has to say.

Eri

A Noh costume is composed of various parts which are assembled and sown together directly on the actor just before the performance. Eri (neck-collars) come in various colours indicating the nature of the character wearing them (age, gender, social status, etc.). For Kiyotsune I will wear a blue collar like the one pictured below. Eri are among the few parts of the costumes that all Noh actors own, as they come directly in touch with parts of the body (such as the neck) which tend to sweat hence to easily damage fabric. The one below is a simple T-shape piece of white cotton with a strip of blue silk sown on top, which was made by a friend in Kyoto.

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Practice notes #1 voice

photo-1I’ve been keeping a log of my training of Kiyotsune. Probably much of it does not make much sense except to me, but I thought I would share some of them here.

  • The first verse is your chance to set the pitch for the whole play.
  • Kiyotsune is fairly young and educated, the pitch should not be too low and it should have a quality of smoothness and elegance.
  • Start low and use the first verse to find the right ‘pitch increase range’ within one sentence of yowagin.
  • It’s easier to adjust the pitch above than below.
  • Even if your face is covered, remember to keep lips and cheeks relaxed while you sing.
  • The chant is beautiful, be careful not to to let your mind wander too much as you listen to the ji-utai while sitting on the stool. You are the captain.

– 神秘神秘

 

Notes on translation

20130427-064215.jpgI’m on an airplane, working on my translation of Kiyotsune into Italian. The beauty of the poetry is too much to take and I cannot stop the tears rolling down my face. I do my best not to be too self-indulgent, but… It sometimes happen at okeiko, too, and I think I saw my teacher also crying when we were rehearsing the ji-utai for Tomoe.
Anyways, I just wanted to jot down a brief thought, perhaps a truism. I feel lucky not being a Japanese native speaker because otherwise I would not be able to enjoy bringing Kiyotsune into my native language. All this work of searching, decoding, reflecting, writing, re-writing, changing, making mistakes, correcting them, modelling, adapting…. Translating… What a delight. What a moment of deep transformation and union with the character. Translation can’t be betrayal as long as one accepts that in this life everything is transformed. One thing is thinking it, another is feeling it.