A dynamic grasp of the transmission of kata in modern Noh: from the perspective of comparative theatre
Leader: YOKOYAMA Tarō
Member: YAMANAKA Reiko, NAKATSUKA Yukiko
This study aims to clarify the influence of changes in the media used for recording body movement, and in the teacher-student community, on the transmission of kinetic techniques, through analysis of the transmission of Noh in the postwar years. It will focus on dynamic mechanisms facilitating the development of new expressional techniques and departures within a tradition that is generally viewed as stable or fixed. The results of interviews with Noh performers will be compared with results from other fields of performance (traditional performing arts, theatre, dance, ceremony, sport, etc.).
This research aimed (1) to consider the methodology of fieldwork in the study of performance techniques of Noh, and (2) to investigate the way the techniques are transmitted by modern Noh actors and the changing process of it. The contents and results are as follows:
(1) We surveyed previous fieldwork studies on performance and organized a research group to discuss the methodology for interdisciplinary and comparative study of skill transmission. Through the discussion, we found some key concepts of analysis for skill transmission of Noh, like Waza-gengo (skill language), notation, community of practice. To publish the knowledge obtained through this study, we held a conference titled “The Passing on of Waza (Artistic Techniques and Skills) in History and in the Present: Gesture, Notation, Community,” in addition to Yokoyama’s paper “Imaging a Knowledge of the Transmission of Waza (Body Skill): Toward an Interdisciplinary Approach Centered on Noh Technique.”
(2) We interviewed five Noh actors, each of whom is one of the core members of his Noh school. This survey provided us with valuable testimonies for how performance techniques of Noh have been passed on today. They showed that there are major differences among the schools concerning the way Kata-tsuke (choreography note) is utilized and authorized, and the way actors enter the community of practice. There are still issues, however, with the sample volume and the investigation method. More thorough field research and archiving of research records are challenges for the future.
This project aims to survey the transmission of the kata (kinetic techniques) of Noh in the postwar era. Its first year concentrated on a survey of methodologies for investigating the transmission process, from the perspective of comparative theatre.
Research on Noh has developed around the philological study of written source materials, and the static classification of techniques. Little has been done in terms of fieldwork observing and documenting the dynamics of technique transmission. As a first step, we have collaborated in research and discussions towards establishing a methodology for the project, and have drawn up lists of researchers and earlier studies that will be of reference in our survey. A study group, Kata Keishō Kenkyūkai, was formed, with a program of lectures held as follows.
1. July 19, 2014: FUJITA Takanori, “Fieldwork on technique transmission in Noh”
2. February 19, 2015: NAKAMURA Minako, “Dance notations”
3. March 5, 2015: SHIMIZU Takuya, “Pedagogical-anthropological research
on Shaanxi (Qinqiang) opera, a genre of classical Chinese theatre”
4. March 26, 2015: HAYASHI Yōichi, “Documentation and the body in sport”; MASUDA Nobuhiro, “Gesture and its rhythm (Image and gesture—notation in sequence photography)”
Major results of the first year were establishing the interdisciplinary contacts and accumulating the theoretical knowledge necessary for research on technique transmission. Of special value in terms of future interviews with Noh performers were 1. the attention paid to issues studied in micro-ethnology, such as the technical language and subtle physical communication shared by masters and students, and 2. the attainment of the understanding that katatsuke, the community who share its techniques, and communication within that community, condition each other strongly.