Departmental Bulletin Paper Eenen 延年プロジェクト-伝統と創造力の間での狂言再生の試み(2009〜2015)-
The Eenen, En-nen Project-Regenerating Kyogen between Tradition and Creativity-

多木, 陽介

Eenen, En-nen (延年) is a project that was started in 2006 by Tadashi Ogasawara, a Kyogen actor of the Izumi School, with the ambition to rediscover the primitive form of Kyogen and retrieve its original vigor. I have been involved in this project as stage director and researcher since 2009 together with Angelo Crotti, an Italian actor specializing in the role of Arlecchino in Commedia dell'Arte. For three years (April 2012 - March 2015) we were fortunate to receive academic and financial support from Osaka's Momoyama Gakuin University in the joint research program titled `The Establishment and Development of Masked Comedy in Japan and in Italy during the Medieval and Early Modern Period and its Contemporary Practice'. In this paper I examine what we have done and present an analysis of our experiments. Kyogen is a Japanese traditional comic theater which has undergone refinement and stylization throughout its long history. As a consequence, Kyogen today seeks only virtuosity in performance, leaving the social significance of the themes obscured or distorted, so that it is often difficult to understand the original meaning of the plots and the action. For example, in the famous and popular piece <<Ka-zumo>>(sumo with mosquito), the role of the mosquito should be interpreted as a metaphor for a poor hungry peasant, not an insect itself. Rereading <<Ka-zumo>>in this way, one will notice that this was bitter satire, not the fantasy-like comedy that we see today on the Kyogen stage. Originally, Kyogen was a form of satiric comedy with a real social function, but as a cost of the protection given by the ruling bushi class since the 17th century, it lost its vital link with society and was subjected to a kind of emasculation. Its stylization was nothing but the result of control by the authorities. It was also a general tendency in early modern Europe to `civilize' madness (the chaotic energy of comic plays, carnivalesque fetes, fools and so on). And this was very similar to what happened to Kyogen. Our objective is to deconstruct the stylized form of Kyogen and restore its original creativity and critical function in a contemporary society. For this purpose we took the approach of tracing back its genetic process in history. If we compare human activities as a whole to a big tree, each specialized field (not only technological or industrial fields, but also many traditional arts) corresponds to one branch at the top of ramification very highly posted, but very distant from its roots, and very poor and fragile in creativity, because we have so few lymphs at the branch end in quality and quantity. So it is necessary to step out of one's small branch end and descend to reach the parting point where many branches converge, and where you will find many more lymphs of creativity. Adopting Commedia dell'Arte, the Italian tradizional comic theater which has many similarities with Kyogen, but much less stylized as a "partner branch," we decided to go down to the parting point between Kyogen and Commedia dell'Arte. In the Eenen, En-nen project, we held conferences as well as workshops and experimental performances in collaboration with Commedia dell'Arte actors, namely Angelo Crotti and Andrea Brugnera, in Osaka, Venice and Bologna. For performances we chose some Kyogen texts and adapted them for present-day society by employing the improvisation technique of Commedia dell'Arte. We believe this is the only way to reach a larger bough where we could effectively rediscover the original energy and critical spirit of Kyogen. No less fruitful were the rehearsals themselves, through which we observed not a few essential points. At the beginning it was unexpectedly difficult for Ogasawara to act using improvisation. The reason? As Carola Baldini's MED method suggests, we can identify six different levels of human movement, which go from very personal identity to performing identity. Obviously, as a well-trained Kyogen actor, Ogasawara feels very much at ease at the Scenic Movement level, the most technical level mainly comprising our performing identity. But in acting using improvisation, which required much grater employment of his very personal psycho-physique zone, he had to contend with a less technical level of movement, from which he realized to be completely separated because of his traditional training. His body was heavily penetrated with kata, a stylistically codified form, a sort of performing language of Kyogen ,without which he fell into complete aphasia on the stage. Thus, we noticed in him a sharp split between personal identity and performing identity, life and form, mind and body, an interesting "symptom" typically observed in many traditional theater forms. Through a workshop held at Bologna University, we also realized that kata is not necessarily a fetter but a very effective and creative mode of expression. Kata is a complex language system, that is, a set of symbols to convey meanings. But sometimes in the course of history and the process of aesthetical refinement, the original meanings of kata become blurred or simply forgotten. Only by descending down to the genetic level we can understand the true meanings of kata, which need to be rediscovered every time we practice kata. The Eenen, En-nen project is a specific program to regenerate Kyogen, but all of our research, such as adaptations of Kyogen works, analysis of the symptom of the stage aphasia of Ogasawara or experiments utilizing kata, leads us to a fundamental question about the relationship between form and life. And we can apply the same method to other artistic subjects ; not only theater but also dance, music, painting, etc.

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