History of Tragic Studies in Japan: Irresistible Attraction between Tragedy and Noh

History of Tragic Studies in Japan: Irresistible Attraction between Tragedy and Noh
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  History of Tragic Studies in Japan: IrresistibleAttraction between Tragedy and  Noh Since this conference today is for summing up what we have been working on for these15 months, I will try to pick up some important elements which each of you themembers of this research group have already mentioned in last two seminars inMatsumoto and to draw a larger picture of the history of tragic studies, especially donein the light of comparison to  Noh , and performance as one of their most eminent resultswhich Japan witnessed from the 19 th century. Some of these studies and scholars whoconducted them seem to be connected and to influence on each other, while the other rather spontaneously found the probability of comparing Greek tragedy to  Noh . Iintended, at first, when I came up with the idea of summing up the history of “Greek tragedy researched / performed in Japan”, to focalise the Theatre Company at theUniversity of Tokyo in 50’s and 60’s, so-called ‘Giri-ken’, but the extreme limitation of the amount of any type of their records such as documents, films, recordings, etc. has been keeping me from revealing their nature as a community and their impetus for  performing Greek tragedy. In spite of this crucial difficulty, however, I aim to read a paper on ‘Giri-ken’ at the Annual Joint Postgraduate Symposium on Ancient Drama of APGRD, Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama, held in Oxford andLondon this June; since this year’s theme is ‘Communities and Contexts in the Theory  and Practice of Greek and Roman Drama’, ‘Giri-ken’ would be a material adequateenough to be dealt with on this occasion. The deadline is early April, and I appreciate if you give me any information on ‘Giri-ken’so that my abstruct will be accepted.Let us observe how tragic studies in Japan and concerning Japan were accumulatedsince the 19 th century. According to Macintosh (1997) 1 , Greek tragedy was “of littleconcern” to the Japanese even while William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) and his theatrewere exploring Greek and Noh parallels in Dublin from 1914 onwards. As far as I know,up to the student production at the University of Tokyo, Greek tragedy was examinedmainly in the field of historical studies of drama in general, on which Ryozo Niizeki(1889-1979) published a book as early as 1920s. His srcinal interest was in JohannChristoph Friedrich von Schiller, which perhaps led the ‘Giri-ken’ students to Greek theatre; most of them departed from German drama theory at the Department of Aesthetics. Thus, by the moment when the Japanese found it attractive to expolre Greek tragedy itself and its mysterious parallels to Noh, these studies had been conducted byWestern people who had a chance to make a contact to Japanese culture. What gave amomentum to Yeats to head for Noh was his encounter to Ezra Pound (1885-1972), who 1 Macintosh, F. (1997). ‘Tragedy in Performance: Nineteenth- and Twentieth-century Productions’in Easterling, P. E. ed.,  The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy . 284-323. Cambridge.  worked with him until 1916 and through whom he was influenced indirectly by ErnestFenollosa (1853-1908). The year of 1916 witnessed Pound’s start-up of editingFenollosa’s study of Noh plays, the draft of the first play by Yeats modelled on Noh, and,coincidentally, the Easter Rising in Ireland; Yeats’ Irish background does not seemcompletely irrelevant to his production and acceptance of Noh, as well as the experienceof World War II of the members of ‘Giri-ken’led them to performance of Greek tragedyas Kubo (2017) 2 analyses. This private publication of Professor Masaaki Kubo (1930-)is titled “Yo-gaku Koto-hajime”, literally translated as “Western StudiesCommencement”, is an apparent homage to “Ran-gaku Koto-hajime” meaning “Dutchstudies Commencement” published in the early 19 th century as an essay by an eminentscholar at that time. It seems, again, not a coincidence that Toyoichiro Nogami(1883-1959), who edited and commented on Zeami’s Noh theory “Fu-shi Ka-den”, onwhich I talked in Matsumoto about a year ago, also edited and commented on“Ran-gaku Koto-hajime” three years later. Kubo (2017) recalls the time when ‘Giri-ken’was organised and how they started their production and appreciates Junji Kinoshita(1914-2006), a dramatist with his background of Shakespeare, who recommended himto explore Noh, especially its masks, for deeper understanding of Greek theatre. Besides 2 久保正彰  (2017).  『洋学事始』 .  私家版 .-Kubo, M. (2017).  Yo-gaku Koto-hajime . Private publication.  the German influence from Ryozo Niizeki, Shakespearean way of observing tragedymight have flown into the students theatre company in the course of their interaction.For further examination of Kubo (2017)’s statement which tells us most of the‘Giri-ken’members have miserably lost their families and homes during of after the war,let us sort out their biographies along with correlations between the other protagonistsof this series of seminars.-----Although we are finally going to summarise our research project, there seems to be stillleft a lot of materials to be examined. What made Kure (1959) 3  believe ‘secretly’ thatinterpretation of Noh or Kabuki would help performance of Greek tragedy? What didMoriaki Watanabe (1933-), a scholar of Jean Baptiste Racine and a stage director, aim atwhen he organised a company with a Noh performer Hisao Kanze (1925-1978) and brought Aeschylus’Agamemnon and Seneca’s Medea on stage 4 ? Only one plausible andinfallible explanation is that they all felt an irresistible attraction between tragedy and Noh. 3 呉茂一  (1959). 「ギリシャ劇の上演について」『ギリシヤ悲劇研究』 1. 32-6.  東京 .- Kure, S. (1959). ‘On Performing Greek Drama’, in The University of Tokyo Greek TragedySociety ed.,  Greek Tragic Studies . 1. 32-6. Tokyo. 4 宮城徳也  (2008). 「悲劇」『はじめて学ぶ ラテン文学史』 75-90.  ミネルヴァ書房 .
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