Noh Fusion (2007)

Workshop presentation of two Noh Plays, each incorporating a different art from

Izutsu-The Well Cradle By Zeami
Music by Diedre Murray
Directed by Sonoko Kawahara

Kinuta- The Fulling Block By Zeami
Directed and choreographed by Jeff Janisheski

New York Theatre Workshop Studio

About our Exploration

Crossing Jamaica Avenue presents two Japanese Noh plays. The developmental workshop interprets each of the old texts from the fifteenth century with a different art medium: Butoh dance and original contemporary Western music.


From Izutsu-The Well Cradle

About Noh Theatre

Noh is the traditional musical drama that has been performed in Japan since the 14th century. Together with the closely-related form of Kyogen (the comic interludes in an evening of Noh plays), it evolved from various popular, folk, and aristocratic art forms. Tonight is an exploration of Noh theatre through the work of its principal theorist, actor, and playwright, Zeami (1363-1443). Noh is often called “the art of yugen (elegant, refined, and elusive beauty).” This elegance permeates all of Noh’s parts: its dance, drama, singing, chanting, live music, richly decorated costumes, and (for one or two of the main characters only) masks. All of these elements are concentrated in a very formal and minimal way. With its often slow and spare movement, its stylized choreography, its poetic language, and its hypnotic singing/chanting, Noh is like a haiku poem: it is not about describing or enacting, but about suggesting the essence of the story.

About Izutu

Izutsu-The Well Cradle, written by Zeami(1363-1443), is based on an old story from The Tale of Ise , a 10th-century collection of short stories about romantic encounters of Ariwara no Narihira, (825-880), a Japanese poet and aristocrat.

A traveling priest stops at Ariwara Temple, where Narihira and Ki no Aritsune’s daughter lived long ago. A village woman arrives to tend to a grave in the garden. He asks her why she is doing so and she begins to tell the story from the Tale of Ise.

A man (Narihira) and a woman (Ki no Aritsune’s daughter) were good friends from early childhood, competing against each other to grow taller and measuring each other’s height against the local well. The boy eventually realizes how beautiful the girl has grown and they exchanges poems. Eventually, they get married, but the man later falls in love with another woman and starts to visit her. One stormy night, as he is leaving the house to meet his lover, he notices his wife, composing a poem saying that she is worried about his welfare on a journey on such a stormy night. He realizes how much he is loved and does not go to the other woman.

When the village woman has finished the story, she says she is the Ki no Aritsune’s daughter in the old 10th-century story, and disappears. That
night, when as the priest slept, she came to him again in a dream. This time she is wearing her husband’s cap and gown over her kimono. She dances and sings about how much she loves her husband. She looks into the well as they once had stood side by side as children and sees his reflection. She then disappears

About Kinuta

Kinuta-The Fulling Block is a story of miscommunication and obsession: abandoned for years by a husband whose work has kept him away from home, a young woman is driven insane and dies from despair; the husband returns too late and summons her spirit to declare his love and to release her from her ghostly hell. When she was alive she beat her robe on a kinuta (a fulling block) in order to clean the robe and give it lustre. When in hell she continues to beat the block and is only released from her torment by the prayers of her husband. In his later years – perhaps bemoaning the lack of appreciation for the play’s poetry – Zeami said, In generations to come, no one will appreciate this play. It’s a shame.”


Izutsu – The Well Cradle
Written by Zeami, translated by Royall Tyler
Directed by Sonoko Kawahara
Original music by Diedre Murray
Music Director: Randall Eng
Traveling Priest: LeeAnne Hutchison*
A Village Woman/Ki no Aritsune’s Daughter: Nicole Cherniak Hyde

Kinuta – The Fulling Block
Written by Zeami, translated by Royall Tyler
Directed & Butoh choreographed by Jeff Janisheski
Husband/Chorus: Luis Moreno
Servant/Chorus: Frances Chewning*
Wife: KK Moggie
Fool/Chorus: Michael Beck

April 12 & 19

This presentation is made possible by The Small Organization Arts Regrants (SOAR) program from Asian American Art Alliance, Nancy Quinn Fund from ART/N.Y. and NYTW’s Suspect Studio series