Home » Events » Yugen Touring | Making “Cordelia”, a Modern Noh Play Innovating Shakespeare’s King Lear

Yugen Touring | Making “Cordelia”, a Modern Noh Play Innovating Shakespeare’s King Lear

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Date(s) - 03/05/2013
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM

Garrison Theater, Scripps College Performing Arts Center


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How does one make a modern Noh play? How is one built? Or rehearsed? How do the performers mind’s work? How does the text work? What are the risks of actively designing and shaping cultural convergences? What is lost and gained in dynamic acts of translation?

In 1911, Natsume Soseki, theatre critic for the Asahi Shimbun and professor of English at Tokyo University, suggested that if Shakespeare was to be translated into Japanese it might be interesting to realize it in the unique poetic style of Noh, Japan’s masked lyric drama. Surprisingly few attempts to bring together these theatrical traditions have been attempted in the intervening one hundred years.

Most Western tragedies end with the death of the hero or heroine. In Noh, death is often not the end but rather the beginning. In 2011, Theatre of Yugen (American) brought together Noh (Japanese) and Shakespearean (English) theatre to create Cordelia. Afterward labeled ‘a modern Noh play,’ and conceived as a phantasmal warrior play, Cordelia is an intimate echo of Shakespeare’s King Lear, told from Cordelia’s point of view. Tightly weaving an aggressively modified Shakespearean text by playwright Erik Ehn, musical composition for Western instrumentation by Suki O’Kane and altered Noh choreographic gestures, Cordelia continues the tradition of Noh as much as it transforms it.

Co-sponsored by the Aoki Endowment for Japanese Arts and Cultures.

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