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A slice of Japan on Delhi stage

A slice of Japan on Delhi stage
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It is not every day that you get to experience Japanese musical drama sitting here in Delhi, but the Noh Theatre performance, organised by the Japanese Embassy, gave city connoisseurs one such occasion.
 
Performers from the Kanze School of Performance from Japan displayed their skills to a packed auditorium. Noh, a classical Japanese musical drama, is being performed since the 14th century. This festival was to mark the 60th Anniversary celebrations of Indo-Japanese diplomatic relations.

The act was in three parts — The Shimai, Noh and the Maibayashi. In the Shimai, the performance began with a delicate dance while in second part — the Noh — the st
ory was enacted with the artstes singing and dancing. It ended with Maibayashi where the spirit of a spider duels with the samurai.

The costumes were colourful — cream coloured tunics paired with olive green drapes with a hint of grey in the fisherman’s robe. The angel was dressed in the celestial colour of faded white with golden hues and a red skirt with golden prints, rich hues of royal colours which exuded elegance.

The Shimai is the digest version of the Shite [ghost of Minamoto no Yoshitsune], performed with music by Jiutai in Montsuki-Hakama. It was a dance performance where the dancers wore traditional formal coats with the family crests and Hakama skirts.

The entire performance is traditionally performed by two artistes with music accompaniments but the Kanze school used added distinctive flavour by wearing tabi socks and used sliding steps, known as the Suraishi.

In the Noh Hagoromo, the performers enacted the story of fisherman Hakuryu, who while indulging in the beauty of a spring, finds a robe with aromatic scent on a pine tree and tries taking it home as a heirloom. Suddenly he hears a voice telling him that the robe does not belong to humans. The fisherman is reluctant to return, while the Shite tells him he cannot return to heaven without the robe. The Shite, shows a court dance and music in a bid to get the robe back.

The last part of the act was fast as the climax of the story comes here. The my sterious stranger monk [Shite incarnation] appears and calls Yorimitsu[ a samurai], suffering from sickness.The duel was enticing as the Shite, in trying to overthrow the samurai, throws yarn. The samurai thrashes the yarn with a sword slashing through the yarn and getting rid of the spirit.

As the performance is done in Japanese,the brief introduction at the beginning of the play was quite a rescue. Throughout the play, the certain movements of the legs, of the costumes, of speech and the singing and music itself was utterly different. The characters were in pause for the longest time and in between one could sneak a little sleep and still find the characters in the same position.

The masks, costumes used in the play was very creative and visually appealing and this was the only solace from the whole act as it didnot bear any comprehension from the non-japanese speaking tribe of the audience. This theatre definitely needs more explanation, to develop a kind of taste for it. Worth the attempt if one into Japanese culture, language or more so if one is a theatre person.
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