The relation of noh and Japanese society changed several times during the course of its history. This session investigates various communities that create and perform noh and explores the social dynamic that gradually turned the flourishing noh from the 15th century into a 'heritage theatre'.
The relation of noh theatre and Japanese society changed severely several times during the course of its history. Relocating noh in new performance contexts and new social environments, such as finding new patrons and audiences or consolidating the troupes and the repertoire, are characteristics that shaped and still shape noh theatre besides the actual performance tradition. This session addresses the relation of noh theatre and Japanese society by investigating the various communities that create and perform noh. The presentations explore the social dynamic that gradually turned the active and flourishing noh theatre from the 15th century into a 'cultural heritage theatre'. For this the dramatic structure and theatrical characteristics and practices as well as the images attributed to noh theatre are investigated from a historical perspective. The three speakers address their topics from various points of view. Takemoto Mikio focuses on the interaction of noh troupes, playwrights and performers during the Middle Ages. He analyses the transmission of noh plays, especially the processes of writing, adapting and rewriting. With Kurokawa noh, Eike Grossmann investigates a local, semi-professional noh tradition and its role in the cultural activities of the Shônai domain (Yamagata Prefecture) during the Edo period. Miyake Akiko discusses the classical and contemporary aspects that constitute modern noh theatre. She examines its contemporary meaning and questions how and when it turned into a "premodern art form" that represents Japanese culture.