By Tom Yarwood
Published by: The Guardian
Beginning of article:
Noh is Japan's classical theatre, a living medieval tradition that has had many illustrious modern fans, from Yeats and Brecht to Britten and Kurosawa. It's the kind of thing one ought to know more about, and doubtless would if the words "medieval" and "tradition" did not instil ghastly foreboding. I finally overcame my resistance to it while working for Scottish Opera in Glasgow, when my curiosity about Japanese drama was piqued by a Zen-inspired piece we were producing.
Turns out Yeats and Britten knew best. I felt bashful about my former scepticism and, stirred by the poetry of the plays and their deep sense of place, decided to go to Japan to see them on stage. My favourite play, Matsukaze, conjures its setting, Suma beach, in moody autumnal images – the wind whistling above the shore, the silvery reflection of the moon in dark rock pools, the cries of cranes starting from the rushes at twilight.