FYiP 2020: Reflections by Kuwata Takashi

20 July 2020 | Journal

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Noh master teacher Kuwata Takashi shares his personal reflections on the online broadcast of FYiP 2020. Originally posted on his blog, his reflections have been translated from Japanese by A Yagnya.


There was a performance at a theatre school in Singapore where I teach Noh.

This school has a curriculum in which the first- and second-year students undergo various basic training, and the third-year students do practical training focusing on theatrical performances.

They study Asian classical theatre as the center of the basic training. The compulsory subjects are Japanese Noh, Chinese Beijing Opera, Indian Kutiyattam, and Indonesian Wayang Wong.

Third-year students will perform graduation performances three times a year. All of them studied Noh, so I am attached to them.

I always want to see their graduation performance, but I can't exactly go down to Singapore usually.
Sometimes, performances coincide with my stay in Singapore, but that usually doesn’t happen.

However, the graduation performance that took place yesterday was an online performance. Even in Singapore, classes are mainly held online because of Covid-19’s damage.

It’s difficult to hold a theatre performance with the audience.
As a result, the graduation performance became an online performance.

I think it's very disappointing for the third-year students who have lost the opportunity to perform in front of an audience. As a fellow actor, I can sympathise with the regretful sentiments of these third-years.

However, being in Japan, it gave me happiness to be able to see their graduation performance online, from here.

I watched their graduation performance with great interest.

After all, it would be difficult for everyone to get together and practise a performance. All performances were performed in the form of a solo play.

Each decided on a theme and performed a short performance of about 20 minutes. It was interesting to see each person's individuality as some performed focusing on narration while others performed with a focus on song and dance.

It's fascinating to see the theatrical skills and personalities that I felt when I taught Noh last year, being well represented in these performances.

Their performance after two years of basic training made me almost want to exclaim in admiration, “I knew you had it in you!” Their voices were clear and the movement was dynamic. Also, their emotional expressions were solid.

In the Noh lesson, I remembered those who were struggling with the song and the dance. Seeing those same student’s magnificent appearance almost moved me to tears. Now they have become magnificent actors.

The performances were recorded in the school studio.
I was very familiar with the familiar scenery of the studio and the chairs used as props.

After that, the three-hour performance, including the roundtable discussion, was over in no time.
At first, I was wondering if I could watch a performance on a computer, but I enjoyed it very much.

It is indeed a great age, to be able to watch theatre performances in Singapore from my home in Tokyo, in real time.

The plan is to go back to this school in six months, in January next year, to teach Noh, but it’s uncertain what will happen with this pandemic. Really, I just hope for a quick resolution to this situation.