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Noh was the oldest and most respected form of theater.  The origin of Noh, Kabuki, and puppetry were the performances made to the shintai, the 'God Boy' or statues resembleing the Fortunes where was believed the kami entered. 
Noh was a long poem presented by a handful of actors accompanied by music, a theater of symbolism with heavy emphasis on the actors' ability to evoke mystery and depth by the use of stylized motions. The plots were minimal and usually dealed with supernatural themes or events long in the past. 
One of the most striking aspects of the Noh was that the shite, the main actor, might wear a mask, as might his companions, or tsure. This occured when the main character was an old man, a youth, a woman, or a supernatural character. Tsure accompany the shite in certain plays, and if they represented one of these groups, they would also be masked, but the shite will not wear a mask if his character was an adult male.
Kokata, or boy actors, never wore masks, nor did waki, the secondary characters who appeared first on stage to set the scene, and met the main actor. Masks were carved from wood, often cedar, which was then gessoed and painted, and included some of the most moving works of sculptural art in Rokugan, and, since there were so many different types, it took a certain skill with them to recognize specific types.
The other ubiquitous prop was the fan, which in a symbolic theater such as Noh, could represent all manner of other objects, such as bottles, swords, pipes, letters walking sticks and so on. A typical group of Noh performers will consist of the protagonist (the shite) and a primary supporting character (the waki). The drama unfolded in slow rhythmic chants and restrained movements following a very rigid pattern. First the waki called the shite to the stage and asked questions which revealed the nature of the shite. The climax came in the form of a formal dance by the shite expressing its true feelings. The Noh actors kept their faces expressionless during the performance, letting the words of the play spoke for the characters.
Training of Noh artists could focus on being the shite, the waki or both. Masks were also sometimes used to hide the actors faces and gave an additional way of expressing the nature of the character they were portraying. There were no sets used in Noh, just a featureless black cloth backdrop. There were few object used as props, and most would be very simple. Music accompanied the actors where neccessary, and nothing more. The emphasis of the play was not the plot, but the exploration of characters and emotion.
Types of Performances Edit
Within the Noh plays there were five categories; the ghost plays, the women plays, the warrior plays, the celebratory plays and the demon plays. There was a sixth play, known as the burlesque play, but it was not popular among the courts of Rokugan. It held great favor with the commoners. 
External Links Edit
- Noh Theater Troupe (Heaven and Earth)
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