ISBN 978-0-86140-214-4 21.6 x 13.8 cm.
For over five centuries the essays of Ze-Ami – considered, with his father Kan-Ami, to be the founder of Noh, the classical dance-drama of Japan – were kept secret. They were not shown to more than one Noh actor in each generation until recently. Though they contain a large number of paradoxes and contradictory statements as well as a great deal of repetition, they were regarded as a Bible by actors in the Noh technique. As repetition was a constant feature in training and in techniques in many arts in Japan, and as paradox had often been used in the search for the truth in Zen, so Ze-Ami's essays were accepted, despite their repetitions, paradoxes and contradictions. They were not. however, easily translatable, and they benefit from being edited.
In this work therefore, Ze-Ami's ideas are dealt with in eight chapters: The History of Noh: Five Groups of Noh Plays: Training: Acting: Writing a Play: Public Tachiai Competitions and Grades of Acting: The Audience: and Hana. This arrangement presents Ze-Ami's ideas with some order and consistency. Relevant sections of eighteen essays by Ze-Ami are translated and discussed. These include Fushi-kaden, Kashū, Ongyoku-Kowadashi-kuden, Kukyō, Shikadō, Nikyoku-Santai-Ningyōzu, Sandō, Fushizuke-shidai Fukyokushū, Yūgaku-Shūdō-Fūcken, Goi, Kyūi, Rikugi, Shūgy-okutokuka, Goonkyoku-Jōjō, Goon, Shūdosho, Kyakurui-ku, and Zeshi-Roku-juigo-Sarugaku-Dangi.
This volume is a most useful introduction to an understanding of Noh history, practice, and technique, for all readers in the West, written as it is by a trained Noh actor..