Noh TriviaQuestion and Answer

Question128 What sort of a play is “Utsubo-zaru,” which features a juvenile role?


According to the head of a kyōgen family, “An actor’s life starts by portraying a monkey and ends by portraying a fox.”

Embarking on the career path of a juvenile actor, most children in a kyōgen family will make their debuts playing the role of the monkey in “Utsubo-zaru” (The Quiver Monkey).

The role helps them to acquire the skill of imitation and the rhythmical sense that are important for kyōgen acting. They imitate a monkey’s actions: crawling on all fours, crying, scratching themselves on the back and hips, getting rid of fleas, playing with the lead that is attached to them, and so on. They also need to have a sense of rhythm as they move to the song and dialogue. Juvenile actors have to perform these various actions while following the flow of the story and wearing masks that restrict their field of vision. It is the beginning of hard training for the children.

Juvenile actors start their careers being watched over and trained by the performers around them. In “Utsubo-zaru,” the monkey trainer fulfils an important role, holding the lead attached to the monkey. The trainer guides the monkey with the lead, controlling its actions while keeping it from falling from the stage, and also giving cues.

(May. 12, 2014)

illustration : Hiroko Sakaki

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