Approved by University Studies Sub-committee.  A2C2 action pending.

                                               THAD 315

                        JAPANESE CLASSICAL THEATRE


A. 1. Course Description: This course will study the three major
classical Japanese theater

forms Noh, Kabuki, and Bunraku (overviews attached). The
conventions of each will be compared and contrasted with western
conventions. Aesthetic concerns, staging, and performing will be the major
venues of investigation.

As required by the approval process, the following address
three of the five listings for multicultural perspectives courses and
connect syllabus course content with activities relevant to THAD 315.

Three cultural concepts will be expected as learned outcomes:

1) Japanese principles of beauty as manifest in Classical
Japanese Theatre.

2) Presentational vs. representational staging and
performance conventions as interpreted by Classical Japanese
Theatre and Western Theatre History respectively.

3) Influences of Taoism and Zen on nature/time expressions
in Classical Japanese Theatre.

The above three will be positioned below with 1) focused in a.,
2 focused in b., and 3) focused in d.

All of the examples will be associated with text readings,
lectures, hand-outs, video viewing, question sessions, and testing.

a. demonstrate knowledge of diverse patterns and similarities
of thought, values, and beliefs as
manifest in different cultures:

Whereas in the West aesthetic desires are expressed in making only some
things beautiful, in Japan beauty is regarded as an integral part of
civilized existence as expressed in four principles. The first one is that
beauty should be hinted at rather than told. Beauty is not a brilliant
revelation, as Plato would have it, but an aspect of creativity whose
workings are hidden. The second hallmark of Japanese beauty is the
avoidance of symmetry and regularity. Simplicity is the third hallmark.
Beauty should have unobtrusive elegance and provide a rest for the senses.
Beauty lies not in instant impression, but rather is accumulated experience
that exhibits the power of quiet yielding. Finally, Japanese beauty
appreciates perishability. Japanese construct of beauty praises

An example studied is the beauty of Noh which comes to fruitation in
stages that we will learn rely first on hana, the attraction; moving to
yugen, a dark mysterious internal elegance; and arriving finally at rojaku,
the beauty found in the lonely sadness of the old where the world floats
between time and timelessness.

Another example in each form is the idea of impermanence. Whereas in the
most accomplished artifacts of Western theatre we hold the scripts forward
(Aristotle's plot, character, thought), Classical Japanese Theatre
venerates the performer not the playwright.

In Bunraku the puppetry is achieved through sophisticated movements that,
over the centuries have reached an extraordinary beauty in both
simplification and intensification through furi (stylized everyday
movements and gestures) and kata (stylized patterns of dance).

b. to understand the extent to which cultural differences
influence the interpretation and expression of events,
ideas, and expressions;

Kabuki offers a striking contrast to the practices of Western
representational theatre. Kabuki is presentational where the Western
suspension of disbelief is in sharp contrast. In the presentational
theatre the actor does not lose his identity as an actor. The audience
does not regard him as a "real" person that exists but as an actor acting.
His makeup, costume, movement and speech emphasize the difference between
the actor and the concept of a "real" person that exists. The stage is
distinguished from the rest of the theatre building, but is not conceived
to be spacially discontinuous from it. The stage also contains in full
view musicians, chanters, and Kuroko - a hooded actor dressed completely in
black who can arrange costumes and props for desired asymmetrical beauty
should the movement of the actor bring them into balance. The actor, the
audience, and the performance exist within the same undifferentiated world.
The actor is therefore permitted to communicate with his audience directly,
for both occupy the same world of actuality.

At the opposite pole of presentational theatre is the representational.
This generalized form appeared in the Greek Theatre of the fourth and third
centuries, in the European medieval mystery plays, Elizabethan theatre and
in the contemporary theatre from Ibsen to the present. This is the form
most entrenched in Western assumptions concerning the willing suspension of
disbelief. As such, every effort is made to convince the audience that the
stage is not a stage (the fourth wall) and that the actor is not an actor.
To this end the stage is disguised by the use of settings, properties, and
lighting so that it appears to be a specific and "real" place - the unity
of time, action and place is desired. This dynamic provides rich grounds
for cultural emphasis concerning contrasting interpretations.

d. examine different cultures through their various

The Tao worked out an organic theory of the universe which included nature
and all things past, present, and to come. Taoism seeks to identify a code
of conduct that unites nature and humankind in harmony. These expressions
are melded with Classical Japanese Theatre by using natural elements as
transferable ideas of human conduct. Briefly, water in Japan is associated
with intuitive ways of sensing realities beyond the present, and recognizes
the kinship between water and the feminine and advocates a conduct that
corresponds to this association: The highest good is that of water. The
goodness of water is that it benefits many. The Noh stage holds specific
places associated with water to facilitate such transferable ideas. Also
the pine tree figures prominently in the Noh theatre, painted on the back
wall of the stage and serving as a sign for Noh itself. Symbolically pine
(matsu) is the same as the word for wait and is associated with the virtue
of fidelity and long life. Similar examples exist among the use of wood,
fire, earth, and metal.

Taoism influenced Zen and consequently Classical Japanese Theatre.
Generally, Eastern religions speak of using now in the fullest sense, as
the gateway to "eternity." The Zen master is called "son of the moment,"
and according to Zen master Dogen, "It is believed by most that time
passes; in actual fact it stays where it is." Time never passes. The West
says that it does as long as we have a clock to measure for us. But in
Noh, Kabuki and Bunraku it is not time that passes, but ourselves.

These and other concepts in Classical Japanese Theatre are fertile ground
for students of both the East and the West to move beyond their

A. 2. Course Outline:

Wk 1 Three Stages of Beauty, Aesthetic Fullfillment in Noh
a & b

a. Hana (Apparent Beauty)

b. Yugen (Subjective Beauty)

c. Rojaku (Quiet Beauty)

Wk 2 An aesthetic of Discord: The Harmony of Disharmony
a, , & d

a. The Traditional Preference for Odd Numbers

b. Jo-ha-kyu in Noh

1) Jo - spacial element

2) ha - disordering element

3) kyu - temporal element

Wk. 3 The Five-Element Theory: Its significance in the Five-Play Cycle
a & b

a. Correspondences of the five-elements

1) wood

2) fire

3) earth

4) metal

5) water

b. The Five Subject Categories

1) God

2) man

3) women

4) lunatic

5) demon

Wk 4 Time and Space in Noh: Apposition and Fusion
a, ,b & d

a. Ma: form for the coexistence of opposites, this world and
the other world, reality and

b. The Dramatic Nature of Time and Space

1) Condensed time

2) slippage of time

3) vanishing time

4) reversed time

5) split time

6) shift of space

7) oscillating space

8) flowing space

9) expanding and contracting space

Wk 5 The Noh Stage: Symbolic Space
a & b

a. The symbolic Nature of Space

b. Directional Orientation

c. The Significance of the Bridge

d. The Mirror Room: space of transformation

e. The parts of the stage

Wk 6 The Performers
a, b, & d

a. The Shite - symbol of Noh space

b. The Waki - representative of the audience

c. The Kokata - Yugen

d. The Hayashi - The Noh orchestra

e. The Juntai - The chorus

f. The Ai-kyogen - The narrator

g. The Tasks of each performer

Wk 7 Zeami - The man who linked Noh to the future

a. structural components

b. function components

Wk 8 Video, Western Comparison Review, Test
a, b & d

Wk 9 Background of Kabuki

a. political background

b. Samaurai and Kabuki

c. Peasants and Kabuki

d. Merchants and Kabuki

e. Outcasts and Kabuki

f. The Official Morality

g. Popular Beliefs and the Supernatural

Wk 10 History of Kabuki

a. Kabuki ordori dance 1603

b. Genroku Kabuki - Tokugawa culture 1688-1703

c. Golden Age of Kabuki in Edo 1780- 1866

d. Meiji Restoration 1867-1868

e. Kabuki from the Meiji Period to the Present

Wk 11 Kabuki in Performance
a, b,& d

a. Kata - fixed forms

1) aragoto - gracious

2) ma - pauses

3) mie - climatic sequence suddenly frozen

4) tachimawari - fighting movements

b. Costumes and Make-up

c. Stage and décor

Wk. 12 Video, Western Comparison Review, and Test
a, b & d

Wk 13 The three-operator puppet of Bunraku
a & b

a. principle

b. left hand

c. feet

Wk 14 The Gestures of Bunraku
a & b

a. furi - stylized reproduction of familiar human

b. kata - unique beauty of line that puppets can

Wk 15 Video, Western comparison Review, and test
a, b ,& d

a, b, & d

A. 3. Statement of Basic Instructional plan: lecture, web-site viewing,

and handouts

A. 4. Requirements - attendance, web reviews, and video reviews.

Evaluation based on 3 tests and 1 final worth 25 points each.

Grade: A = 100-90

B = 89-80

C = 79-70

D = 69-60

F = 59-0

A. 5. List of course materials: Laptop, No and Bunraku by Donald Keene

The Kabuki Theatre by
Earle Ernst

A. 6. Bibliography:

James R. Brandon, The Cambridge Guide to Asian Theatre, 2000

A. C. Scott, The Kabuki Theatre of Japan, 1999

John Mitchell & Miyoko Watanabe, Noh & Kabuki Staging Japanese
Theatre, 1994

Benito Ortolani, The Japanese Theatre, 1995

Earle Ernst, The Kabuki Theatre, 1974

Donald Keene, Noh and Bunraku, 1990

Association for Asian Studies, Education About Asia, Volume
6, 2001, Volume 7, 2002

Association for Asian Performance, Asian Theatre Journal,
Volume 19, 2002). (see attached memo)


The Tradition of Performing Arts in Japan (1990);

Japanese Performing Arts (1976);

This Is Kyogen (1992);

Kabuki Techniques (1969);

Kabuki Acting Techniques (1980);

Bunraku: Classical Japanese Puppet Art (1973);

Noh: Classical Theater of Japan (1980)

B. 1. Statement of the major focus and objectives of the course:

Focus is on classical Japanese Theatre, Noh, Kabuki, and
Bunraku, with an emphasis on Noh.

Objectives are:

a. Principles and Perspectives within each form

1) Aesthetic fulfillment

2) Time and Space

3) Stage and staging

4) The performers

5) The performance

b. How the above differ from Western concepts

B. 2. This course will expose students to cultural concepts outside the
ken of their own assumed conventions. It will also help as an
elective in Global Studies. (Letter attached)

B. 3. None

C. 1. History 123 East Asian Civilization and History 341 Modern Japan,
as taught by Professor Alex Yard, have content concerning Tokugawa
culture and the Meiji Restoration. The interest in the new
Classical Japanese Theatre course is to put developments in
theatre in context not re-teach history. Prof. Alex Yard has been
consulted. His response in the affirmative is attached.

C. 2. None

C. 3. Elective for Global Studies. Letter attached.

University Studies Multicultural Perspective. This packet is
formatted for dual submission

D. Attached.