Noh TriviaQuestion and Answer

Question77 Why do actors stand still for such a long time?


We tend to think that important points of training in traditional acting such as dance and movement can only be expressed in sophisticated forms and smooth actions. Nevertheless, there are also several fundamental skills to learn for the state of standing still. The basics of standing still on stage are called kamae (postures). It is an acting style that requires consciousness of the whole body, similar to hakobi with movements. The actor seems to be standing with a low centre of gravity and appears to be static, but actually he is in a state of tension with multiple countervailing powers at his waist. These include the power drawing his body from the front, the power pulling him back from behind, the power he uses to step firmly, and the power to support his body securely. He seems to be standing still, but actually he shows the audience his presence through his internal strength that has nowhere to go.

This internal strength makes the gentle movements and strenuous dance sequences that follow impressive, regardless of the visual dynamism of the movements. In this regard, it is often said that you will find an actor's ability by looking at his postures. If you watch a play thinking that the actors are not moving, you feel only that it is long and tiring. But if you understand that an actor is maintaining a state of strong tension in the whole body, you will find it easier to concentrate as you watch.

(Mar. 5, 2010)

illustration : Hiroko Sakaki

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