Noh, Zen and Now

Author: Kim Rockell (Komazwa University)
Speaker: Kim Rockell
Topic: General Sociolinguistics
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2022 General Session


This paper examines the historical relationship between Japanese Noh theatre and Zen Buddhism from the standpoint of contemporary Japanese university students’ practice and production English language Noh-style plays. Performers’ perceptions in response to the flow of rehearsals and performances in Nagoya, Tokyo and Fukushima between 2018–2020 were documented with ethnomusicological fieldwork methods. Long-held notions of the way the practice of kata (patterns) engender states of aesthetic contemplation, and how main characters in Noh achieve catharsis through transformation are explored. In Japan, music and drama are increasingly recognized internationally as effective vehicles for language that help in gaining command of ‘a tool of global communication’. In this project, notions of globalized English are coupled with local sensibility and an important Japanese heritage tradition. At the same time, the use of languages other than Japanese in performing Noh are seen to promote a broader awareness of Noh, as occurred during this research.

Keywords: Noh, Zen, EFL, Theater-based education, Performance-assisted learning