Five Modern No Plays

Five Modern No Plays

by Yukio Mishima

Japanese No drama is one of the great art forms that has fascinated people throughout the world. The late Yukio Mishima, one of Japan's outstanding post-war writers, infused new life into the form by using it for plays that preserve the style and inner spirit of No and are at the same time so modern, so direct, and intelligible that they could, as he suggested, be played on a bench in Central Park. Here are five of his No plays, stunning in their contemporary nature and relevanceâand finally made available again for readers to enjoy.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Plays
  • Rating: 4.05
  • Pages: 228
  • Publish Date: December 15th 1989 by Tuttle Publishing
  • Isbn10: 0804813809
  • Isbn13: 9780804813808

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Songs of a lonely heart flying from the gentle folds of the fan signalling the melancholic air to chant sermons of an unrequited love ; the capricious love muffling the voices of a damask drum ; the viciousness of love nurtured by the obstinacy of the heart spilling its vengeance in a haunted soul ; the arrogance of beauty nestled in narcissistic love humbled by the aloofness of a gravestone and the nothingness of love dissolving into a philosophical profundity dreaming the richness of love on a mystifying Kantan pillow. The shadows of human emotions expressed by the beauty of Noh travelled through the dainty pages in my hand nailing rock solid boundaries within my sanity. The spirituality of Japans oldest theatrical art echoed from contemporary adaptations mirroring and validating Mishimas elegant testaments of Noh. But only human beings really change. The five masterfully illustrated Noh plays is Mishimas dexterous assimilation of surrealism of the ancient art with the incisive technicalities of modernity, comprehending indigenous vague sensibilities through a metaphoric democratic lens of naturalism. Mishima tactfully places the woman on an urban park bench surrounded by young lovers making out, shifting the Noh play away from its fabled ambience and providing a realistic imagery depicting brutality of time and lunacy of self-love. Mishima , unambiguously asserts the the fellow-feeling for the greyish tone is purely an admission of the human mind and communal prejudices, whereas the tongue cannot distinguish between original and genuine, simply falling in love with the commonality of the taste.. The futility of human existence enhanced by the immorality offered through dreams is best left on the pillow for true salvation comes from the mortality of the present, alike to Kikus garden that finally blossomed on one fine morning beautifying the heroism of trying to live. The ghost of libido afflicting Aoi tosses the eerie fascination into intense sexual psychoanalysis stylishly mirroring the root cause of Rokujo Ladys malice towards Aoi. Keeping intact the spirituality and the paranormal potency of the original Noh, Mishima floats the crudity of sex being one of the derivates of Rokujos suffering. Mishimas unmasked actors deduce the possibility of the supremacy of hate and love, pain and joy equating to the cyclical motions of day and night, the root of it all stemming from Rokujos sexual ecstasy with Hikaru. Mishima, recreates one of the most outstanding love stories and a heart-rending classic in Noh theatre with dominant allusions of the dilettante love harbouring no prejudices, flourishing through lengthened waiting interludes encumbering the aimless trenches of lunacy. The inclusion of a flagrant homosexual approach to the Noh play is Mishimas way of enlightening the impartialness of love disregarded by the prejudicial fundamental of the society. Two women looking into the future of waiting, annulling and acknowledging the presence of love evokes the sensation of human fortitude and stratagem of time capturing the nakedness of a helpless love. The shadows of leaves floating in the tepid waters of a serene lake, the song of a cuckoo filling the morning sky, the beauty when you discover an old childhood souvenir; the profundity originating from the nuances of the bewildering ways life turns out to be. Human emotions get ugly, the incidental narcissism veiled behind a placid mask, stories are fashioned, moralities escaped from the tucked seams and yet , when the aloof shadows of a Noh mask drift on the skin of its performing possessor , the magnanimity of its beauty imbibes the magnetism of the steely needle peeking through the myriad straws of hay.

4.5 stars N for Dummies First off, let me say that I started reading these plays n-ing nothing about Kabuki or N theater, just that I have always admired Japanese dramatic arts even though I couldn't much understand it. His intentions were to transform the centuries-old Japanese aesthetic form - which embody ambiguity, simplicity, vague language and deep-rooted Buddhist doctrine - into more of an intellectual and intelligible scheme, while still preserving the sensitivity and symbolism of the ancient form of N. Contrasting the old and new in his modern N, Mishima keeps the same titles and basic plots of the older plays, but uses contemporary speech, natural body language and stage settings. For the poorly diverse, opportunity-deprived but eager spectator of Japanese theater like myself, Mishima has provided coherent interpretation and exciting entertainment in these dramas, infusing his own flair for the dark and macabre, conjuring up a mysterious, mesmerizing, evocative, at times gothic world in which I enthusiastically enjoyed being immersed. "Most encouraging of all, perhaps, is the fact that an outstanding young writer has devoted himself to this traditional dramatic art, and in so doing has created works of unusual and haunting beauty." - Donald Keene (translator) *The original plays in old speech translated in English can be found here: The N Plays of Japan by Arthur Waley (Grove Press, New York, 1953) Anthology of Japanese Literature by Donald Keene (Grove Press, New York, 1955) And for a dedication to my GR comrades click here

They are Sotoba Komachi, Kantan, The Damask Drum, and The Lady Aoi. Hanjo is found in Twenty Plays of the No Theatre (Donald Keene, Columbia, 1970). Incidentally, I've had The No Plays of Japan (Grove Press, 1957) since September, 2015 so I suspect I didn't read this note and mention it in the first review. (To verify) It's a pity there are only two plays in this book, that is, Sotoba Komachi and Kantan. I think we can be simply relaxed by reading the plays because of fine translations by one of the great Japanologists in the 20th century and beyond, Professor Donald Keene. All of his five No plays may look simple but I wonder if anyone dares to write like him or unthinkably surpass him; it is easier said than done, I think. In the meantime I found some lines worth reflecting or sharing ideas, for instance: Excerpt 1 (SOTOBA KOMACHI) POET Strange you have the cool eyes of a girl of twenty, you wear magnificent sweet-scented clothes. Youve become young again. KAYOKO Youre in love with a great lady whose name you dont even know. However, I simply could not accept the ending of these two plays since each was a bit illogically interpretative, that is, abruptly ended with no sense or eventually sensible conclusion: EXCERPT 4 (THE LADY AOI) MRS. 171) EXCERPT 5 (HANJO) JITSUKO I wait for nothing.

La belleza como castigo, la obsesión por aquello que nos ignora, la incapacidad de amar de un modo sensible y altruista y el paso del tiempo reflejado en las estaciones.

I went to spend one night in a monastery of the Mount Koya, the cradle of the Japanese Buddhism. The supernatural appears as a threat under the aspect of a woman who comes at night at the bedside of a sick woman.

In 1970, at the age of forty-five and the day after completing the last novel in the Fertility series, Mishima committed seppuku (ritual suicide)a spectacular death that attracted worldwide attention.