Influential Japanese Playwrights Essay

Influential Japanese Playwrights Essay

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Vengeful ghosts, evil demons, and people turned to animals. These are all features of a typical Japanese Noh play. The battles for power in medieval Japan are responsible for inspiring the creator of the noh genre in Japanese theater. The noh theater is interesting and colorful with an assortment of masks and costumes carefully crafted to represent the character they represent (Noh). Many of the great plays written by playwright Zeami Motokiyo, the most highly regarded of all in the genre, inspired many and helped make noh a success (World 114). The great Noh drama Atsumori along with its writer Zeami helped define the Noh theater and make it popular in Japan even today.
Japan in the 14th Century was a time when many influential groups struggled for political and power and military control. Two of these powerful groups were clans of Minamoto and Taira (Allinson 54). These two samurai clans battled for power in a conflict known as the Genpei War (Allinson 54). After a series of intense battles across the central Japanese mainland, the Minamoto Clan finally emerged victorious (Allinson 54). Shortly after defeating the Taira Clan, also known as the Heike Clan, the Minamoto set up a new government in Kyoto the nation’s biggest city at the time and capital (Allinson 54). The new commander under the Minamoto government was shogun Yoritomo (Allinson 54). Yoritomo’s reign was short-lived due to his selfish grab for military power separate of the emperor’s (Allinson 54). This put Japan into political chaos until the early 1200s when the Ashikaga Clan began to gain influence across the island (Allinson 55). During the brief peace brought about by the Ashikaga era, arts and culture flourished (Allinson 55). Japanese Zen Buddh...


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...ori and his soul (World 115). He also tells Atsumori he hopes Atsumori will forgive him for killing him, but explains how he himself would have been killed if he did not (World 122). Atsumori then forgives Rensei and says that they are “friends in Buddha’s Law” (World 124).
Noh drama is popular in Japan even to this day. The Noh form of traditional drama was developed from Chinese Nuo and heavily influenced by Japanese Buddhism, Japanese history, and the works of great playwrights such as Zeami Motokiyo. It has many unique features that distinguish it from other theater forms such as its unique acting style, usage of masks and other character creating elements, and its relatively short length. These features and more are what defines the traditional Japanese Noh form, and why it is still performed and viewed in Japan today and around the world today (Noh).


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