Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Noh in Seattle

On June 19, I was proud to have coordinated a performance of traditional Noh in Seattle. The Wing Luke Asian Museum of the Pacific American Experience hosted Chuuden Yuugakukai from Nagoya, Japan in their Tateuchi Story Theater. The group performed to a (beyond) capacity crowd of Seattle-ites appreciative for the rare opportunity to witness the cultural legacy of traditional Noh Drama, and experience the Japanese aesthetic of “yuugen:” profundity, subtlety, and mystery.

In this first-time visit to Seattle, Chuuden Yuugakukai gave a special demonstration of this centuries-old Japanese traditional art form. Based in Ngoya, the group has been performing regionally in central Japan's Aichi and Gifu Prefectures for 30 years. Chuuden Yuugakukai is part of the Kanze School of Noh drama, which has a lineage dating back to the 14th Century. With patronage from the Ashikaga clan of samurai warlords; the school flourished under the founder, Kan'ami, and his son, Zeami, to become one of the largest and most prestigious schools of Noh. It continues today to be known for its emphasis on graceful movements and beautiful costumes.

The performance by the group's 10 member consisted of 8 vignettes from classic Noh theater; including Chikubushima, Semimaru, Hagoromo, and Funa Benkei. Traditional flute and hand drums accompanied the singing and dancing. A special bonus was a mask carving demonstration, and the display of a collection of hand-carved wooden masks used by actors in the NohTheater.

I've been honored to have coordinated or produced a number of cultural artistic performances in the US & Japan and look forward to a future opportunity to work with this wonderful group again. And, for more information on this gem of a Seattle museum, please visit http://www.wingluke.org/.

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