Noh is a Japanese traditional performance art, which emerged in the 14th century. It is a unique form, startlingly poetic, lyrical and refined. It is also an intrinsically interdisciplinary art, drawing upon dance, chant, music, mask, and rich costumes. It was designated a form of ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’ by UNESCO in 2008.
Noh is renowned for its restrained aesthetic: all superfluous details are removed. In its place, the concentrated use of a number of richly decorated masks, costumes and props make Noh performances a rich visual spectacle.
Technique is vital to Noh. Professional actors will have trained for many years to make movements appear graceful, to give their voice a rich sound, and to understand their art from the inside out.
There are many Western practitioners who have been inspired by Noh’s distinctive aesthetic: W.B. Yeats, Bertolt Brecht, Eugene O’Neill, Benjamin Britten, Peter Brook and Arianne Mnouchkine are but a few.