Introduction to Noh

http://www.the-noh.comIntroducing the world of Noh

Tagged , , ,

Character Research: Pantalone


STATUS: An upper class landlord with many business interests – controls all the money in Commedia, but stingy in the extreme, and terrified of being parted from his money. He is demanding and even thoughtlessly cruel to his servants, and has a terrible temper. He is sociopathic and cares for no-one. His only ambition is to further his financial interests and he manipulates and schemes tirelessly to this end. He is also lecherous and made more repulsive by moments of salivating lasciviousness.

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE: Lean and scrawny, hunched and wizened; turkey-like. He wears red stockings and a shabby, threadbare cape lined with red, which which flashes dramatically when he explodes in his not in-frequent temper tantrums. He has a red wool skullcap and yellow or black Turkish slippers at the end of his thin-legged red stockings. He looks undernourished and poorly dressed, belying his great wealth.

MOVEMENTS: Walks in small, urgent steps with his neck craning out ahead of his body. His shoulders are hunched over and his hands flutter about him continuously gesticulating as thoughts come to him, and grasping for re-assurance at his coin-pouch which he keeps close to neither regions.

SPEECH: High pitched and demanding chicken squawk

CHARACTERISTICS: Operates on the assumption that everything can be bought and sold, which turns out to be true, with the exception of loyalty and love, which goes beneath his radar. Loves money for its own sake and will only part with it when there is absolutely no other option. When things don’t go his way, as they inevitably don’t in Commedia, he quickly falls into emotional extremes, especially enraged tyranny. He is driven by greed and has ongoing prostate problems.

RELATIONSHIPS: Mean to his servants, fawning to Dottore (because he may have something he wants), scheming with Capitano, lecherous with Columbine

RELATIONSHIP TO THE AUDIENCE: The character the audience loves to hate, he is too self-interested to be aware of the audience, who are often privy to his schemes as he mutters to himself. His only true virtue perhaps is that he is completely transparent.

PLOT FUNCTION: A source of mockery because he takes himself to seriously, and of constant scheming by the rest of the cast to part him from his money. He is personally impotent because he is so old and decrepit his money. He is personally impotent because he is so old and decrepit, but his money gives him power.

Resource(s): Commedia Character Notes by S.K. Podger

Tagged , , , ,

“For Artaud, a theatre is a fire; for Brecht, theatre is clear vision; for Stanislavski, theatre is humanity. Why must we chose among them?”

I think that this quote perhaps best summarises our time in theatre as not only have our teachers taught us about these practitioners varied techniques, but they have also encouraged us to develop our own by taking inspiration from their practices and applying them to create our own uniques style.

“People applaud the worst performances just as they applaud the best. Why don’t they insist on entertainment?”

Whilst I don’t applaud the worst performances as I do the best I still applaud them nonetheless as I always thought of those that didn’t show appreciation for my shows to be rude and thus not applauding would be rather hypocritical of me. This isn’t to say that I expect a standing ovation from every crowd. Not at all. But it wouldn’t take much effort on the audience’s behalf to put their hands together a couple of times to validate my efforts. That being said, I can understand why Peter Brook thinks this way. If we simply show every performance appraisal despite it’s quality, then we are consequently encouraging that standard of performance and thus suggesting to the company in question that their work is entertaining. Perhaps I should walk out of the next show I am disappointed by, although I don’t think I’ll ever be able to overcome the feeling of guilt. That being said, my claps shall only be reserved for those deserving of them.

“In order to face new audiences with new creative formulas, we must first be able to face empty seats.”

This quote particularly resonates with me because it quite simply states that one has to be ambitious in theatre and take risks whenever the opportunity arises, because if you don’t try, you’ll never know and that’s not doing anyone any favors. When collaborating with my peers I often find that they have a tendency to shun ideas which they deem not good enough. Although, the fact of the matter is that we are all our own worst critics and so it would probably be best to let the idea out into to the open no matter how ‘bad’ it really is. I too have moments like this, although recently I’ve been trying to avoid keeping ideas to myself, because even the worst ideas can be developed into better ones with a bit of help.

“In the theatre, someone can say “yes” in such a way that the “yes” is no longer ordinary – it can become a beautiful word, because it is the perfect expression of what cannot be expressed in any other way.”

I was taken aback by this statement at first because I somehow seemed to understand it, despite being unable to explain it. But I shall try anyway. What I think should be taken away from this is that everything should have a reason. Nothing should be for the sake of being. As a director one must chose what is best for the senario. In this sense the word ‘yes’ can be assumed to be an answer to a question, but it is the question itself that defines the manner in which the word is said. Thus the use of this simple word is unique to its situation and does what no other word could do. I think.

“We are at a moment of great confusion in theatre, a chaotic period of transition to we don’t know what.”

I have to agree. There hasn’t been anything as of late (with the acception of Gangnam Style) that has been so widespread that it could be considered the norm, and frankly I’m glad. A state of confusion is the best thing for creativity in my opinion as it means that we do not have to be restricted to what would be considered appealing to the masses. Everyone is doing everything and and it’s all being appreciated because we’re advancing into an age where people are breaking away from society’s standards and doing things in their own interest.

“In the theatre, a thousand spectators see the same thing with a thousand pairs of eyes, but also the same.”

In all honesty I’m not quite sure what Peter Brook is getting at here, although my theatre teacher has been known to say that Peter Brook believed that 50 different people should see 50 different shows… or something to that extent. On one hand I agree that no two people are likely to come out of a show with identical interpretations of the performance. However, on the other hand I think that should be a limit to how much one can allow their audience’s imagination to wonder, as if one does not have a anything to be true to then the audience is open to any interpretation and whilst I believe that this can still be classified as art and entertainment. I do not believe that this can be called storytelling. In my opinion if one simply communicates everything to the audience then it essentially means nothing.

“Any actor who plays a part and sees the part as being smaller than himself will give a bad performance.”

I am a firm believer in incorporating some of myself into my characters. After all, if I didn’t do that then what would be the benefit of having me play that character over someone else? Just as every character is unique so is every actor, but it should go without saying that no matter how much of the actor is incorporated into the character, the character must be greater than the actor because otherwise it wouldn’t exactly be acting. Nevertheless, I feel that it is important to acknowledge that an actor is an actor. That is to say that an actor ‘acts’ their character. They cannot ‘be’ their character because they are themselves after all. Therefore, the actors goal should be to find the balance between themselves and their character.

“Art only becomes useful to man and society if it contains within it an urge to action.”

As an aspiring director this is a value I hold with the highest regard and often try to incorporate it wherever possible. I see art as much more than something to be admired, I see it as a tool that if used correctly has the power to inspire. As can be deduced from Peter Brook’s words – art does not have to be useful, it can simply be beautiful. However, for art to serve a practical purpose, which I fully believe that it should it must be employed tactically by addressing issues of importance.

“The primary virtue of a performance in the theatre is for it to be alive, and secondly, to be immediately understandable.”

I concur with the first part. Although, I think I’ll have to agree to disagree on the second. Theatre is no good if it’s dead, with the acception of a zombie apocalypse. But I don’t think that it needs to be ‘immediately understandable’. Understandable – Yes. Immediately – No. I have seen many performances that have perplexed me for a duration of time before beginning to make sense of the story. I would even go as far as to say that sometimes confusion could work better for a piece. Personally, one of the most enjoyable experiences I have ever experienced in the theatre is the sheer thrill of the unkown.

“The theatre will be the field in which people can learn to understand the sacred mysteries of the universe.”

I think that this may be stretching it a bit far, but I do believe that the arts in general can be employed to communicate important ideals as stated earlier. Theater in particular happens to be more than just a from of entertainment, it has been known to be used as an instrument of change throughout history. That being said I don’t think that we can expect to learn about the universe on stage anytime soon, at least not until someone writes a musical adaptation of The Big Bang Theory.

The Shifting Point

Tagged , , , ,

“Western dance begins with its feet firmly planted on the ground whereas Butoh begins with a dance wherein the dancer tries in vain to find his feet”

– Tatsumi Hijikata

“When one considers the body in relation to dance, it is then that one truly realizes what suffering is: it is a part of our lives. No matter how much we search for it from the outside there is no way we can find it without delving into ourselves.”

– Tatsumi Hijikata

“Even your own arms, deep inside your body feel foriegn to you, feel that they do not belong to you. Here lies an important secret. Butoh’s radical essence is hidden here.”

– Tatsumi Hijikata

“It is not important to understand what I am doing; perhaps it is better if they don’t understand, but just respond to the dance.”

– Kazuo Ohno

“There are as many types of Butoh as there are Butoh choreographers.”

– Tatsumi Hijikata

5 Quotes on Butoh

Tagged , , , ,

What Are the Plays About?

Conventional plot lines were written on themes of adultery, jealousy, love and old age. Many of the basic plot elements can be traced back to the Roman comedies of Plautus and Terence, some of which were themselves translations of lost Greek comedies of the 4th century BC. However, it is more probable that the comici used contemporary novella, or, traditional sources as well, and drew from current events and local news of the day. Not all scenari were comic, there were some mixed forms and even tragedies. Shakespeare’s The Tempest is drawn from a popular scenario in the Scala collection, his Polonius (Hamlet) is drawn from Pantalone, and his clowns bear homage to the zanni.

Comici performed written comedies at court. Song and dance were widely used, and a number of innamorata were skilled madrigalists, a song form that uses chromatics and close harmonies. Audiences came to see the performers, with plot lines becoming secondary to the performance. Among the great innamorate, Isabella Andreini was perhaps the most widely known and a medallion dedicated to her reads: “eternal fame.” Tristano Martinelli achieved international fame as the first of the great Arlecchinos, and was honored by the Medici and the Queen of France. Performers made use of well-rehearsed jokes and stock physical gags, known as lazzi and concetti, as well as on-the-spot improvised and interpolated episodes and routines, called burle (singular burla, Italian for joke), usually involving a practical joke.

Since the productions were improvised, dialogue and action could easily be changed to satirize local scandals, current events, or regional tastes, while still using old jokes and punchlines. Characters were identified by costumes, masks, and props, such as a type of baton known as a slapstick. These characters included the forebears of the modern clown, namely Harlequin(arlecchino) and Zanni.

The classic, traditional plot is that the innamorati are in love and wish to be married, but one elder (vecchio) or several elders (vecchi) are preventing this from happening, leading the lovers to ask one or more zanni (eccentric servants) for help. Typically the story ends happily, with the marriage of the innamorati and forgiveness for any wrongdoings. There are countless variations on this story, as well as many that diverge wholly from the structure, such as a well-known story about Arlecchino becoming mysteriously pregnant, or the Punch and Judy scenario.


Tagged ,

Butoh Internal Monologue

Just as I got onto the bus it started. I see two men out of the corner of my eye. I hear two more shuffling around. They’re coming towards me. I looked down for a moment. Avoiding all eye contact. The curtains were drawn so no one could see. Their bodies cast a shadow over me. I looked up. I was surrounded. Trapped. There was no way out. I was pinned and pulled. My legs opened. My body stripped. Each limb stretched to it’s limits. I am struggling. Fighting. My head flailing about. I wake up. It was just a nightmare. Only this nightmare was real.

I’m lying in hospital. A drip in each arm. I try to shake the thought, but I unable to move. The thought begins to consume my mind just as it consumed my body. Nothing anyone could say could make anything better. I just lay there paralysed. Still. Motionless. What happened that day is all a blur. I just sat and embraced myself. My body still soar. An unwanted reminder of what had happened. These bruises may go. But these scars will be with me forever. For the rest of my years. Months… Days. I try to wash away the pain but it is no use. I remember it all as if it had happened yesterday. Because everyday is yesterday. There is no tomorrow. Not anymore. Nothing will ever be the same.

Tagged ,