The Four Concepts
Succession of Tradition and Re-creation in the Arts
Yokohama Noh Theater is known for its expertise in planning and producing, and is the leading Japanese theater specific to traditional performing arts. It goes beyond producing only Japanese traditional performing arts, and produces new works through international collaborative programs.
Approaching Noh/Kyogen from Various Perspectives
Yokohama Noh Theater presents Noh/Kyogen in unconventional ways.
In the 2009 special themed presentation of "Buke no Kyogen, Machisyu no Kyogen" (Kyogen for the Warrior Class, Kyogen for the Townspeople), we presented two schools of Kyogen - Yamamoto School of Tokyo and Shigeyama School of Kyoto. Although they both belong to the Okura lineage, they are known for having very different styles. The presentation compared them in a unique way.
In "Sotoba Komatch as Hideyoshi Saw it(2002)", we re-produced a Noh play as it was performed 400 years ago. In 2004 presentation "Waki and Shite" (Supporting role and Leading role), we casted a spotlight on the role of supporting role actors waki, and examined it in the series of six performances. In "Noh Costume that Crossed the Ocean(2009)", we brought back and restored a Noh costume that was taken overseas 150 years ago. Furthermore we re-created the costume to use it in a Noh production. Yokohama Noh Theater’s productions have always draw large attention.
Special-themed presentation "Sotoba Komatchi as Hideyoshi Saw it" (YAMAMOTO Nobuyuki)
Japan x Canada Collaborative Project "Susuriwka - willow bridge" (Santee Smith)
Tradition as a Medium to International Exchange
Yokohama Noh Theater has taken on international cultural exchange programs and collaborative productions utilizing traditional performing arts as a core medium.
In "Japan-Korea Traditional Arts Festival", leading artists from both counties performed. The festival took place in both countries, and continued for three years from 2000. In 2005, we did a collaborative production with traditional dancers from Japan, Korea, Bali and Thailand. We continue to strength our relation with Asian traditional performing artists.
From 2009, we initiated a program to work with contemporary Indigenous performing artists from Japan and Canada. As a co-production with Kaha:wi Dance Theatre (Canada), we collaboratively produced a new dance work with Japanese Indigenous musician, OKI (Ainu) and Canadian Indigenous choreographer, Santee Smith (Mohawk).
"Easy to Access" for Many
Yokohama Noh Theater is dedicated to reach out to wide audience to share the understanding of the essence of Noh/Kyogen.
"Every Second Sunday is now THE DAY of KYOGEN! " is what we had decided on our own. Every second Sunday of a month, we present "Yokohama Kyogendo" - two Kyogen performances accompanied by an artist talk about the plays. Ticket price is ¥2000 and is easy to access for new audience.
We also conduct workshops and classes of Noh/Kyogen. During the summer holidays, we call for participants for a Kyogen workshop. The workshop is designed for school children and conducted for three days. This program started in 1996 when the theater opened and has been continuing since. We also present "Barrier-free Noh" every year. This is to create an environment so those with various disabilities can enjoy the Noh/Kyogen performance together.
"Yokohama Kyogendo" (SHIGEYAMA Senzaburo)
Creation of New Works - Tradition as a Source
In order for traditional arts to survive, the effort to re-create tradition is crucial on top of the effort to succeed it.
In "Yokohama Akari (Lights) - Arts Collaboration" which we produced for four years from 2006, we ventured out of our theater and created a new space in the city of Yokohama. The world-renowned lighting designer ISHII Motoko designed the lighting for traditional performing arts that was presented in the city. It was a new realm of art. Traditional performing arts varied from Shomyo and traditional dances of Japan, China and Korea.
In 2011, we produced "The Tale of Jorurihime - modern interpretation". We gave a new life to "The Tale of Jorurihime", which is the forerunner of Joruri. Two main collaborative artists were Biwa player UEHARA Mari and Bunraku puppeteers KRITAKE Kanjuro.
"Yokohama Akri (Lights) - Arts Collaboration 2006" (Shingon Shomyo)
- "Saika Award"
- Awarded by Hosei University, which has the only research institute for Noh Theater in Japan, and is the most prestigious award in the world of Noh/Kyogen. Yokohama Noh Theater received the award for "demonstrating a new working model of a Noh Theater for a new age."
- "JAFRA Award (Ministry of Internal Affairs Award)"
- Awarded by JAFRA (Japan Foundation for Regional Art-Activities) for innovative public-sector cultural facilities.
Yokohama Noh Theater received the award for the recognition of the "creative programming for being the Noh Theater that is easy to access for all."
- "Excellence Award for the Agency of Cultural Affairs Arts Festival"
- Awarded in a competition-style, as part of the Arts Festival hold by Agency of Cultural Affairs since 1946.
Yokohama Noh Theater received the award for planning and producing the special themed production of "Buke no Kyogen, Machisyu no Kyogen" (Kyogen for the Warrior Class, Kyogen for the Townspeople).
- "Grand Prize for the Agency of Cultural Affairs Arts Festival"
- Yokohama Noh theater received the award for planning and producing the special themed production of “Ryuku Buyo - Koten Onna Nana Odori” (Ryukyu Dance -Seven Dance Repertorie of Traditional Women's Dances).
- Award for distinguished service of barrier-free and universal design promotion
"State Minister for Special Missions prize of excellence" in 2015
- The prize awards individuals and parties recognized for their significant contribution to promote barrier-free and universal design. The Yokohama Noh Theater in 2015 won the award as a first theater in Japan.
Since 2000, the Yokohama Noh Theater hosts “Barrier-free Noh” performance offering various kinds of supports for challenged audience to enjoy Noh and Kyogen with non-handicapped audience. We have been aiming to realize an inclusive society in the field of arts and culture.
Yokohama Noh Theater’s Director and Executive Producer, Masayuki Nakamura was interviewed in Presenter Interview for Performing Arts Network Japan. Yokohama Noh Theater’s innovative activities are introduced in detail. Check out the article from here.