Kanze School Of No Theater In The Late Muromachi Period

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Register to read the introduction… Fifteen of Nobumitsu’s plays are contained in the genkou kyoku repertoire, of which Ataka, Funa Benkei, Kochou, and Momijigari are some of the most popular. Nobumistu was more interested in the type of theater geki no, as opposed to mugen no. Mugen no are more dreamy or impressionistic performances focusing on yuugen (elegance, refinement), the style favored by Zeami. Geki no on the other hand are performances considered more theatrical by today’s standards with higher levels of conflict, characterization, and narrative. It is possible that by the time Nobumistu began writing his own plays that the yuugen style had begun to lose the lure it once had with no audiences and Nobumitsu chose to move away from a style he felt had little more to offer. Funa Benkei is a great example of the geki no style. (Tsubaki 300-301) (Lim 567-568) The character roles of Funa Benkei are as follows: waki – Musashibou Benkei, wakizure – two or three warriors under Yoshitsune’s command, kokata – Minamoto no Yoshitsune, ai – The Boatman, maeshite – Shizuka Gozen, and nochijite – Taira no Tomomori. The maeshite Sizuka would wear the Wakaonna, Koomote, or Fukai mask. The nochijite Tomomori would wear the Mikazuki or Awaotoko mask. Funa Benkei is a fifth category play current in all five schools of no. (Tyler …show more content…
Its plot relies heavily on the audience’s knowledge of the Taira and Minamoto wars from 1180-1185, and for an audience member not aware of the history, the play may not provide as much enjoyment. However, considering the time in which the play was written in the late Muromachi Period, when military powers in Japan were increasing, it is likely that the quasi historical legends of the Taira and Minamoto were widely known. The changes Nobumistu made from more traditional styles of no could have very well encouraged the later development of kabuki, in particular those changes which enhanced his works as more theatrical performances. Funa Benkei can be used in great comparison with earlier no works, namely those credited to Zeami, to discover the evolution of no theater through the Kamakura and Muromachi periods.

Works Cited

Ebery, Patricia – Walthall, Anne – Palais, James. East Asia, a Cultural, Social, and Political History. Second Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company. Boston. 2009.

Tyler, Royall. Japanese No Dramas. Penguin Books. New York, New York. 1992.

Benkei, Encyclopedia of Japan. Kodansha. Available through Japan Knowledge.

Kanze Nobumitsu, Encyclopedia of Japan. Kodansha. Available through Japan

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