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Okura Toraaki

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Ôkura Toraaki was a kyôgen performer of the early Edo period, 13th head of the Ôkura school of kyôgen, and writer of several valuable works on the art form.

He is known especially for his 1642 Kyôgen no hon ("Book of Kyôgen"), an eight-volume collection of scripts of over two hundred kyôgen plays. Toraaki notes in the text that this is the first time these plays, previously passed down via oral transmission, were being written down. Another famous and valuable work by Toraaki is his 1651 Waranbe-gusa, a series of treatises on the style of the art form, its history, and underlying philosophies or theory. Among many other topics, he discusses the nature of comedy, and the importance of the kyôgen interlude in a Noh program, and addresses criticism of the kyôgen of his time, which many saw as too serious and formal, in contrast to the Noh, which had actually grown more dramatic and flashy since Zeami's time. The Waranbe-gusa is also a valuable text for its descriptions and criticisms of early (pre-Genroku) kabuki, as seen from the perspective of a professional performer in one of the older, more elite, more established traditions.

References

  • Andrew Tsubaki, "The Performing Arts of Sixteenth-Century Japan: A Prelude to Kabuki," Educational Theatre Journal 29:3 (1977), 302.
  • "Toraaki on the Art of Comedy: The Making of the Comic," in Makoto Ueda, Literary and Art Theories in Japan, University of Michigan (1967), 101-113.
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