Theatre of the Orient
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IX. The Theatre of the Orient

Indian drama was spoken in Sanskrit which was the most commonly spoken language in India. Sanskrit performances were usually given on special occasions such as religious festivals, marriages, coronations, or victory celebrations. No scenery was used but the stage had painting or carvings that would have symbolic value. Sanskrit drama emerged sometime between 1500 to 1000 B.C. and could not be classified as comedy, tragedy or melodrama, but was based on the concept of Rasa. All the Rasa relate to human emotions. The eight Rasa are erotic, comic, pathetic, furious, heroic, terrible, odious, and marvelous. Two famous Indian plays which deal with the Rasa were The Little Clay Cart by Bhasa and Sakuntala written by Kalidasa.

In Japan, three classical forms of theatre exist: Noh theatre, Bunraku theatre and the most classical form, Kabuki theatre. Kabuki is a highly stylized form of theatre that employed lots of scenery and elaborate sets and costumes. Kabuki, like most oriental theatre, did not use women in its theatre performances. Another classical form, Bunraku, is puppet theatre. Each puppet had three operators, but only the master puppeteer's face could be seen. The classic form of Noh, however, started as religious ritual. It had a shite, who was the lead actor, and waki, who was the sidekick or confidante of the shite. Noh theatre utilized an orchestra which had a special position on-stage, but Noh, like Kabuki, did not use women in its performances. Besides the enduring influences of its stylized classical theatre, the Japanese also introduced to the world the revolving stage, a design which is used worldwide.

Links to Chapter 9

Sanskrit

bullet Sanskrit Acadamy
bullet Info
bullet The Hindu

Bhasa

Noh Theatre

bullet Noh  
bulletClassical Noh Theatre
bulletAtsumori- Noh play

Bunraku

bulletA Brief Introduction to the History of Bunraku
bulletJapan Links - Bunraku

Kabuki

bulletKabuki
bulletKabuki: Frozen pictures in a Floating World
W.ild W.onderful W.orld of Theatre History

The purpose of this project is to show the highlights of different periods of theatre history, including plays, acting styles, staging convention, costuming, and playwrights. Web links have been provided so that students can find additional information on items of interest.

Origins of Theatre ] Theatre and Drama in Ancient Greece ] Roman and Byzantine Theatre and Drama ] European Drama in the Middle Ages ] Italian Theatre and Drama ] English Theatre Middle Ages to 1642 ] Spanish Theatre to 1700 ] Theatre in France--1500-1700 ] Theatre of the Orient ] English Theatre, 1642-1800 ] Italy and France - 18th Century ] Northern and Eastern Europe - 18th Century ] Europe & the U.S. - 19th Century ] Europe and the U.S. - Late 19th Century ] Modern Theatre, 1875-1915 ] Europe/ U.S. Between the Wars ] Europe and the U.S., 1940-68 ] Drama After 1968 ]

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