Call grandpa, there’s Noh on TV

This is the face of traditional theatre on the national ‘educational’ channel, NHK’s Eテレ (e-tele), broadcasting programs on traditional performing arts between 22:00 and midnight. In a roundtable on the decrease of Noh amateur population published on Nogaku Journal in 2010, critic Horigami Ken complained about how dull TV programs are today, claiming that the absence of classical arts on TV is one of the reasons why young people today are not interested in Noh.

Nippon no geino

Yes, I too would like to see more Noh on TV and, preferably, I would not like to see it introduced by this nice&tidy couple of presenters, interviewing old geezers and kind baachan dressed in sober kimono, gently bowing and speaking in softly. Noh is everything but gentle or soft. It’s not something to be nodded at from behind a glass case (be it a TV set or a museum stand). Noh is magnificent, powerful, heartbreaking, enlightening. Not for the faint of heart, I daresay. Have you seen this program? Certainly NHK, like much of the Noh establishment, don’t care much about trying to reach new audiences, and only feed the progressively aging spectatorship that started following it in the 1960s. Noh is not only for them. Give us the real thing, not this pre-digested glop, only good for retirement home entertainment.


AsiaTeatro is a new project coordinated by Carmen Covito (writer and translator), dedicated to the dissemination of knowledge of Asian traditional performance in the Italian language. AsiaTeatro is both a website and an academic journal. The website offers introductory notions of performance traditions belonging to the four geographic areas in which it is subdivided (Japan, China, India and South-East Asia). Subsections dedicated to specific genres explore in greater detail each topic, while a rich bibliography provides the reader with a general overview of the scholarship produced to date.

The content of the sections is written in a style devoid of specialist jargon or theoretical shorthand, and is a valid and much needed resource for Italian students, or for anyone who wishes to take an interest in Asian performance.