Noh TriviaQuestion and Answer

Question105 Which Noh play was imported from a foreign country?


Irish poet and winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, W.B. Yeats wrote some dance scripts that were heavily influenced by Noh.

Yeats, who lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, played a central role in the Irish renaissance by his creative activities based on Celtic mythology and legends. He tended to create mysterious and romantic works, exercising his creativity in a wide variety of written work. Regarded as one of the best poets in the 20th century, he also used his talents in the theatre. He did not easily side with realism, which was the general trend in Europe, and became involved in creating suggestive and symbolic dramas.

Around 1910, Yeats's secretary in London, Ezra Pound, began publishing English versions of some Noh plays, including "Nishikigi", "Kinuta" and "Hagoromo", based on the posthumous writings of Fenollosa. Yeats was spellbound by these Japanese Noh plays. He then created four dance scripts, including "At the Hawk's Well". The piece was first performed in 1916 by a Japanese dancer, Itō Michio, at the house of Mrs Cunard, who was a patron of artists in London.

The script was adapted for a modern Noh piece and named "Taka no Izumi" (The Hawk's Spring) or "Taka-hime" (The Hawk Princess) by a leading Noh scholar, Mario Yokomichi. The play continues to be performed even today. In a broad sense, it is a Noh play imported from outside Japan.

(October. 17, 2011)

illustration : Hiroko Sakaki

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