Noh theatre and adaptation

9781408184721Theatre and Adaptation: Return, Rewrite, Repeat (Bloomsbury Methuen), edited by Margherita Laera, is out today! I have contributed to the book with the interview ‘Conservative Adaptation in Japanese Noh: Udaka Michishige in Conversation with Diego Pellecchia’. Instead of looking at adaptations of Noh plays by other theatre genres, or adaptations of other plays through the Noh techniques, I have reflected on what ‘adaptation’ means within the Noh tradition by looking at Udaka Michishige‘s shinsaku (newly written) Noh plays. “How does the notion of ‘adaptation’ apply to a classical theatre genre where language, dramatic structure, music, and mise-en-scene are prescribed by a canon? Can this English word be used invariably to describe works belonging to any cultural area? “

About the book (from the publisher website):

“Contemporary theatrical productions as diverse in form as experimental performance, new writing, West End drama, musicals and live art demonstrate a recurring fascination with adapting existing works by other artists, writers, filmmakers and stage practitioners. Featuring seventeen interviews with internationally-renowned theatre and performance artists, Theatre and Adaptation provides an exceptionally rich study of the variety of work developed in recent years. First-hand accounts illuminate a diverse range of approaches to stage adaptation, ranging from playwriting to directing, Javanese puppetry to British children’s theatre, and feminist performance to Japanese Noh”. 

The book is available for purchase in paperback or eBook on the usual internet vendor websites.


Hatsune Miku and Dojoji – Kyoto Soseiza

illustration by  七原しえ © Crypton Future Media, INC.
illustration by 七原しえ © Crypton Future Media, INC.

Sōseiza is a Kyoto-based group of performers belonging to different performance traditions, including members of the Kongō school of shitekata. Every year the group stages performances that cross genres, but are generally based on traditional arts such as Kabuki, Nihon-buyō, Noh, Nagauta, Shakuhachi, etc. This year Sōseiza is taking it one step further with the performance that brings together the story of Dōjō-ji and the vocaloid computer star Hatsune Miku.

Dōjō-ji tells the story of a young woman who, driven by her passionate love for a priest, transforms into a demonic snake and coils herself around the bell where he was hiding, melting the bell and burning him to death. The story is much more complex and interesting – check a synopsis with stage pictures from the Noh adaptation here.

This vocaloid version sounds like a rather bold experiment, fusing traditional Japanese performance with very contemporary (and equally local) technology, giving the classic tale a pop twist. I have my reservations, though one cannot tell before actually attending (which I won’t be able to do this time..). If you happen to go see this show, please let me know how it was! I’d be happy to post your review here.

Hatsune Miku X Dōjō-ji X Vocaloid

Time: 4 July 2014 from 18:30 (pre-talk opening)

Place: The Sodoh Higashiyama Kyoto