The program for the Nogaku festival, a series of performances organized by the Nohgaku Performers’ Association to be held during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, has been announced (Japanese only – for now). The performances are part of the larger Tokyo 2020 Nippon Festival, starting in April and ending in September.
The program features full nō and kyōgen performances but also recital versions of plays, allowing the audience to enjoy a wide variety of characters but also of performers. Looking at the list of performances, I am glad to notice that, in addition to the “usual suspects” – leading performers from the various nō and kyōgen schools which were announced back in August 2019 – female performers will also join the roster of superstar actors. They are Uzawa Hisa, Saeki Kikuko (Kanze school), and Kashiwayama Satoko (Hōshō school).
Three performances in a program of about forty plays (including kyōgen) may seem like a relatively small number, but considering the very little exposure female actors get I would accept it as an effort of the Nohgaku Performers’ Association to represent the spirit of inclusivity on which the Olympic and Paralympic Games are based. Let’s hope to see some female performers among the musicians, too!
Following the rumours that came out last fall, the Kanze Association has officially announced that the Kanze Noh Theatre will move from its current location in Shōtō, Shibuya to a new building in Ginza, Nōgaku Times (Feb. 2014) reports. The move will be completed in 2016, with the theatre opening in fall. The traditional wooden stage will be rebuilt in the new location, and the hall will be provided with the same number of seats of the current theatre, which will continue to host shows until March 2015. Kanze-kai performances will take place at the Umewaka Nōgakuin kaikan in Nakano until the moving operations are complete.
The rationale behind this huge operation stated in the article appear to be the ageing of the current early 1970s building. Moreover, the Kanze Association appears to be prepping up for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which will function as a huge attention catalyst for Japan, and a chance to promote traditional arts internationally. However, an article appearing on Gendai Bijinesu(Oct, 6th 2013) hinted at the unstable economic situation of the Kanze Association (i.e. the Noh establishment at large). It seems that, whatever difficulties Kanze is undergoing, they decided to face the crisis with an important investment rather than with austerity, a choice that is up to the expectations for a Noh school often considered to be representative of the Noh tradition in Japan and abroad, and that might well pay off in the long run.