Oliver and Ocean Star in Noh Theatre

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The main character seeks help of foreign birds

Friday night Oliver and Ocean had the unique opportunity to perform with the Yamamoto Noh theatre group. Noh is an ancient (800+ years) form of theatre in Japan. The culture here is resistant to change and so many parts of their culture are preserved to the present day (e.g. see Sumo). It is awesome, in the original sense of the word, to participate in the cutting edge form of entertainment from the year 1200. It is like seeing the YouTube videos of today, 800 years from now!

oliver part in noh 2

The Yamamoto theatre of Osaka received a grant from the government to encourage exposure of Japanese culture to international people in anticipation of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Choreographers and directors came to our school and trained the students in the art of Noh. The performance took place in the Grand Front Osaka mall in front of several hundred people as well as shoppers and commuters passing by.

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Ocean backstage

It is fascinating to watch a noh performance There is a band of percussionists that make strange vocalizations and strike their drums at odd times. There is a kneeling chorus singing in a low tone. The actors move about in tight movements, every gesture having meaning. Actors wearing masks can’t see through them, so they memorize their steps. They all use a deep, strained voice. You have to see it as it is hard to describe. It is a long way from Broadway. Yamamoto is a professional organization so the performance was top quality with great sound, costumes, lighting, etc. .

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They used the students in a nice way to lighten the performance. The play was composed in 2009 and it is about conservation of water in Osaka. A traveller to Osaka (then known as Naniwa) is saddened by the polluted rivers and ocean of Osaka bay. Foreign birds (played by OIS students) come and with the help of the water goddess, clean the Osakan waters and everyone lives happily in a clean, healthy environment. Oliver said in Spanish about a waterfall in Sucre, Bolivia that we hiked to a couple of summers ago.

It was such an amazing experience and thanks to everyone who made it possible.

noh entrance from above 2
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