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  1. 1. How is stage used in Noh Theatre?<br />Name: Jun Su Jang<br />Year: 10 C<br />Subject: MYP Drama<br />Teacher: Ms. Rankin<br />Word Count: 843<br />Table of Contents:<br />Introduction ………………………………………………………………………. 3<br />The Description and the Dimension of the Theatre ........ 3-4<br />Where does the audience sit? (Kensho)…………………………. 4-5<br />The main stage……………………………………………………………….. 5-6<br />Other parts of the stage in Noh……………………………………. 7- 8<br />Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………. 9<br />Bibliography…………………………………………………………….....10 - 12<br />INTRODUCTION<br />This research paper will analyze how the stage is used and arranged in Noh Theatre. Nogaku (Noh) is Japanese musical drama, which begun around 14th century. According to the World Book (2004), “Noh plays are poetic treatments of history and legend, influenced by the religious beliefs of Buddhism and Shintoism.” For better comprehension of the topic, a brief description of Noh stage and its simplicity will be explained. Also, various parts of the stages of Noh will be examined, explaining their purposes in the performance. Thus, the report will give information on the uses of stage in Noh Theatre.<br />The Description of Noh Theatre<br />-2857557150Pic 1: The front view of the Noh Theatre (Introducing the world of Noh. 2010)Noh stage contains many interesting and unique features. Since it takes the form of classic Japanese building from 14th century, the stage itself is background scenery (see pic 1. The stage is created with combination of various parts, including a bridge and a platform (Paul, Binnie. 1967). It is “derived from that of the traditional kagura stage of Shinto shrines, and is normally composed almost entirely of hinoki (Japanese cypress) wood”) (Wikipedia: Noh. 2010). Cavaye Ronald (2005) states, “The main stage is about six meters, or twenty feet, square. Adjoining this is the hashigakari, a walkway leading from the backstage area called the kagami noma (“Mirror room”) to the stage.” On the platform, there are four columns and spaces for musicians and stage managers. Underneath the stage, it is hollow for acoustic purpose (Introducing the world of Noh. 2010). The features mentioned above are what make Noh performance special and interesting.<br />In addition, unlike other types of theatre, the stage used simple props and designs (see pic 1). Pine trees are used in the stage, as an example, because it has a spiritual meaning (Noh & Kyogen… 2010). Zvika Serper (2010) states, “The play is acted with very few props, on a raised, resonant, and empty stage” (Introducing the world of Noh). Moreover, by featuring only necessary items and having no scenery, “the imagination of the audience is left to roam freely“ (Paul Binnie, 1967). Therefore, simplicity of Noh Theatre is one of the aspects that give great effect on the audience by not limiting their imagination.<br />Where does the audience sit? (Kensho)<br />Pic 2: Seats for audience (Japan – Noh. 2010)3409950113030The place where the audience sits is called “Kensho”. There are three main areas in Kensho: Shōmen, waki shōmen, and naka shōmen (See pic 2) (Introducing the world of Noh. 2010). “The best seats, located at the front of the main stage, are called " shōmen (the frontage)” (Introducing the world of Noh. 2010). Waki Shōmen is at the left side of the main stage and front of the gangway bridge. (Noh Stage Areas… 2010) Most of the time, the audience can view the performance from the side. Sometimes, when a scene is performed partially in the gangway, the audience can clearly view the performance (Noh Stage Areas… 2010)The other seats for the audience is “the fan-shaped space between shōmen and waki-shōmen is called " naka shōmen (middle-frontage)” (Introducing the world of Noh. 2010). From Naka Shōmen, the audience can view both the main stage and the gangway bridge, but not very clearly.<br />The main stage<br />Pic 3: The main stage (Noh Stage areas… 2010)19050791210The main stage is very simple. It has four columns and a backboard with a pine tree drawing. “It is open on three sides,” (Paul, Binnie. 1967) so that all of the audience, wherever they are, will be able to view the performance (See Pic 3). There are two distinguishable areas in the main stage: Jiutai-za (right side of the stage) and Ato-za (Back area) (Introducing the world of Noh. 2010). “Jiutai-za (the seat for the group reciter) is located at the right side of the main stage. The back of the main stage is called ato-za, which is occupied by hayashi-kata (instruments players) and kōken (stage managers)” (Introducing the world of Noh… 2010). (See pic 3) Hence, all of these aspects mentioned above are necessary in Noh as they are the parts that form Noh Theatre together.<br />There are four columns at each corner of the stage: the matsuke-bashira, waki-bashira, shite-bashira, and fue-bashira (See pic 3) (Wikipedia: Noh. 2010). The name is given based on the noticeable action taken near the pillar. The matsuke-bashira is also called the looking pillar because it is where Shite (character that is human, but becomes a ghost later (Japan-Noh. 2010)) usually face (Wikipedia: Noh. 2010). Zvika Serper (2010) states, “Waki-bashira is Waki’s standing point… Shite-bashira is where the Shite usually performs… Fue-bashira is the column a flute player sits next to…” It helps the performers by allowing them to avoid confusion while acting by going onto a wrong spot (Introducing the world of Noh. 2010). Therefore, columns are one of the interesting aspects of Noh.<br />354266542545Pic 4 The stage with musicians in atoza (Noh Stage Areas… 2010)Kagami-ita (see pic 4), a painting of a pine tree, is a background that is used in all Noh performances (Paul, Binnie. 1967) It is believed to resemble a famous pine tree in Shinto at the Kasuga Shrine in Nara, or “a token of Noh’s artistic predecessors which were often performed to a natural backdrop” (Wikipedia: Noh. 2010). Thus, Kagami-ita is one of the aspects of Noh stage that is compulsory and is what helps the audience to feel the special aesthetic of Noh.<br />Other parts of the stage in Noh<br />Besides the main stage, there are other interesting props and stage areas that are used in Noh. On the left side of the main stage is “hashigakari (the gangway bridge). At the end of the gangway, a curtain (Agemaku) is hung to separate the backstage.” (Introducing the world of Noh. 2010) Interestingly, there are three real pine trees in front of Hashigakari, which represents religious belief (Japanese Culture-… 2010). The backstage and the dressing room is where all the props, costumes and masks are. “Behind the agemaku is kagami-no-ma, where shite fixes his costume and dons his mask, as well as where hayashi-kata (instrument players) make the last tune up of their instruments before the program” (Introducing the world of Noh. 2010). Additionally, it is hollow underneath the stage, which allows the sound to vibrate while performers purposely stomp or when music is played. Therefore, these parts mentioned previously play important roles in promoting the significance of Noh.<br />Pic 5 Diagram of Noh Stage (Noh & Kyogen… 2010)<br />Hashigakari (See Pic 5) is a bridge that is used as a main entrance for the actors to move into the main stage. Sometimes it is used for some important scenes. An example is when “the shite can express the mental fabric of the character and the relationship between the character and the event taking place on the main stage, depending on where he stands on the gangway bridge” (Introducing the world of Noh. 2010). Therefore it provides “the appearance of depth (relationship between characters) to the audience” (Noh Stage Areas… 2010).<br />Agemaku is a curtain (see pic 5) that is hung at the end of Hashigakari. Paul Binnie (1967) wrote, “It (Agemaku) is mainly used as an entrance for shite, waki, tsure, waki-tsure, kyogen-kata, and hayashi-kata.” In addition, the real pine (see pic 5) trees are arranged in front of Hashigakari. “The three real little pine trees along the bridge are quite fixed; they symbolize heaven, earth, and man… Sometimes when a pine is mentioned, the actors look toward it” (The Noh Stage. 2010). Pines, although very small, play an important role in specializing Noh by having Noh’s history with it. <br />Finally, there is a hollow space under the stage. It has, “five earthen jars to make the sound of the singing and feet-stamping reverberate. These five jars are in the areas bounded by the pillars. Two more jars are under the musician's area and three more under the bridge” (Japan – Noh. 2010). As a result, the stage is around five feet above the ground. Thereby, the space underneath the stage is necessary in Noh so that acoustic system can properly work and has an effect on the audience.<br />Conclusion<br />The basic stage structure of Noh plays a crucial role. In order for the audience to recognize the significance of Noh, it uses very simple stage designs and props. There are separates the areas for people with different roles such as stage manager, instrument players, and actors. It also uses historical stage structure and props. Through these features, the audience can comprehend and appreciate special essence of Noh. Therefore the stage is important in Noh.<br />Bibliography<br />Companies<br />" Introducing the world of Noh : The Structure of Noh Stage and Noh Theater.." : Comprehensive Web site on Japanese Noh Play. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2010. <>. <br />This source explains and describes various parts of Noh Stage. It is from a company called It contains a lot of information on Noh, including stage, costume, masks and even the actual show. Since it is an official website on Noh only, I think it is very reliable. I have also seen a very similar article in various sites, which cited that the information was from this company. This website can be used by everyone, from beginner to the experts since it contains basic, yet very through explanations on various aspects of Noh Theatre. If interested in learning in detail on Noh Theatre, it is a very good source to look for. However, it is blocked by China recently…but, without a doubt, it is a great source. I used this source many times, including when I described simplicity of stage, the pine trees, audience seats and others.<br />" The Noh Stage." N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2010. <>. <br />This source (an article from the company called is based on the information from the book called 'Noh' or Accomplishment: A Study of the Classical Stage of Japan. Therefore, looking at the fact that it is a book and admitted by many people, this source is very reliable. In this particular article, it briefly describes most of the aspects of Noh, including masks, costumes, stage and others. The company looks at many different theatre from different countries like France, Spain, Italy, and many others. It is a good source to gain basic idea of Noh. Since it was brief, I was unable to take a lot of specific information, other than a small fact about the pine trees.<br />Internet<br />" Japanese Culture - Entertainment - Noh Theater." - Japan Travel Guide, Japanese Pop Culture, History, Japanese Girls, Japanese Guys. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Feb. 2010. <>.<br />This source contains very few information that I needed for the research. Although it had basic description of the stage in Noh, I preferred other sources’ explanation over this source. I used it to explain the meaning of the three pine trees. Japan Zone gives information on Japanese cultures and tour guides. Therefore, it is useful mostly for people who are interest in Japan in general, not specifically in Noh Theatre. Since it is an official website, giving information about Japan in various aspects like Theatre, musical, places to go to and many others, I think it is quite a reliable source to use. <br />" NOH & KYOGEN -An Introduction to the World of Noh & Kyogen-." Noh & Kyogen. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2010. <>.<br />The source that I have used in the website was based on the stage of Noh Theatre. This website looks at Noh and Kyogen. It is a very reliable source because its Copyright is made by Japanese Art Council in 2004. I used this source to give one of the diagrams on Other Parts of the stage in Noh section. It also talked briefly on the pine trees. Yet, the information based on the stage was not thorough enough, so I did not use much of the quotes. However, it is a good source to get the general idea of Noh stage. If interested in Noh in general, this is a great website because it covers the history, general description, masks, stage, and others.<br />" Noh Stage Areas - All | Japanese Performing Arts Resource Center (JPARC)." Global Performing Arts Database (GloPAD). N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2010. <>. <br />I have used this website to mainly give information on the audience seats and diagrams to clarify my research more. This website is called Japanese Performing Art Resource Center (JPARC). It gives broad range of knowledge on all kinds of Theatre in Japan, including Noh, Kabuki and Kyogen. It contains many resources on certain topics. Since many posts were updated and uploaded recently, this website is reliable. It will give any information on recent changes that have been made and keep up with the date. This website is a good resource for those who are interested in Japanese Theatre, not only Noh, but Kabuki and Kyogen.<br />Noh - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia."  Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Feb. 2010.<br />This is a Wikipedia source. First, this source lacks in the reliability because anybody can edit onto this page. However, if it is trustworthy, it gives quite specific information on all aspects on Noh. It is a source that I looked at when I was stuck because it helped me narrow down the ways I should research. It would be a good source for people who are willing to know about general Noh Theatre. If they want to, they can also look at the sources used to write up the Wikipedia because these websites are usually more reliable than Wikipedia. I used this to give general information of Noh stage, columns and pine tree (background).<br />Books <br />Cavaye, Ronald, Paul Griffith, and Akihiko Senda. A Guide to the Japanese Stage: From Traditional to Cutting Edge (Origami Classroom). New York: Kodansha International, 2005. Print.<br />I think this source is very reliable because it is a book that has been published officially. It contains information on Japanese Stage in Theatre. However, the information on Noh Theatre was not really enough for me to include much of it in the research. It was too general. I use this source to give the dimension of the theatre. Other information was used to help my background knowledge. If interested in stage in different Japanese Theatre, this book is recommended.<br />Encyclopedia, World Book. " D." 2004 WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA SET - COMPLETE SET - 22 BOOKS. Chicago : World Book Encyclopedia, 2004. 336-337. Print. <br />This is the World Book in 2004. It is now 6 years out of date, but it still is reliable. Unlike Wikipedia, it has been edited by many people and officially published. However, it contained very less information on Noh Stage that I could only use this to briefly introduce what Noh is in the introduction. There is not much of details in this source, hence this book is not really recommended as much as A guide to the Japanese Stage. It is just used to get a very brief idea of what Noh are.<br />Person<br />Paul, Binnie. " Noh Theater - artelino." artelino - Japanese Prints and Contemporary Chinese Art Prints. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2010. <> . <br />Paul, Binnie (1967) Contact:’<br />Paul, Binnie is a Scottish artists, who was once interested in Japanese art. He drew scenery of Japan, but he also looked at Noh and Kabuki, too. He even wrote books based on them. He is reliable since he has an experience and actually investigated on Noh by himself. Since he is also quite famous, it is unlikely for him to lie. IN this particular article, it looked at general information of Noh Theatre, which is from Paul’s book. It has information on stage, masks, costumes and others. I would recommend reading the book, instead of this article because it will probably have more detailed information, if you are interested in Noh or Kabuki Theatre.<br />Others<br />" Japan - Noh." index. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2010. <>. <br />This is another research paper done about Noh Theatre. Although it does not contain the author, it gives the resources used below, which improves its reliability. This source contains a lot of information, including Noh stage, costumes, history, masks, plots, playwrights and many others. The website, also has information on Kabuki and other Theatre. I think this source is very useful for those learning Noh because it gives quite through explanation on all aspects of Noh Theatre. I used this source to explain what Shite is and what is under the stage (hollow). It is quite a useful source to look at. I also used one of the diagrams to explain the audience seats.<br />Zvika, Serper. " Article: Japanese Noh and Kyogen plays: staging dichotomy. | AccessMyLibrary - Promoting library advocacy ." News, research, and information libraries trust | AccessMyLibrary - Promoting library advocacy . N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2010. <>. <br />This article was written by Zvika, Serper in Comparative Drama. This article is different from normal website articles because it has a copyright and officially used, which also makes it reliable source as well. It is not a newspaper article, yet it has similar value. I used the article to describe the simplicity of the stage and the columns on the stage. This article covers a lot of aspects of Noh Theatre, not just the stage. It has information on characters, plots masks and others. If interested in Noh, this article is also recommended along with other websites and information, too.<br />