Zoom Kyōgen

This is my first time learning about kyōgen and most of it has been over Zoom. From the beginning of the first class until now, we had been meeting and rehearsing online every week. We also meet with Sennojō Sensei every Sunday to rehearse and learn more detail about kyōgen. As an editor, I not only learn during our rehearsals but I also learn from each recording when I prepare for our pre-show video. I found lots of interesting things from rehearsals.

At the beginning of rehearsals, I learned different types of kyōgen laughs with our professor and Sensei. I felt that kyōgen laughing is very difficult. Every time I try to perform the laughing kata, it is very difficult for me to do it with the same power as Sensei. Specifically, I have a hard time keeping my laugh strong and loud all the way through, and it becomes even more difficult once we add the movement. 

As  I watched the rehearsal recordings for our pre-show video, I found out that Mango Yamabushi, performed by Robert and Christine, was so much fun. In particular, the part where Christine is spreading her “wings” as Robert eggs her on is still fresh in my memory. Then there is the newly invented martian greetings in Earthbound, which are a combination of kyōgen kata and science fiction. To me, the most attractive is MushZooms 2.0, which combines computer technology with a traditional kyōgen play. I think it is a very novel and strange way of performance.

Because the online performance allows the camera to be closer to the actors, the audience can see every movement of the actors more closely, so actors need to make their kyōgen movements clear and direct. In the process of observing rehearsals with Sennojō Sensei, I have learned that kyōgen movements require skillful rhythm and body coordination. This is where the balance of the actors is important. A wobbly center of gravity can cause the picture to look disconnected or unsmooth. In addition, the computer camera limits the actors’ space, which makes it easy for them to accidentally leave the scene. At the beginning of the rehearsal process, during the first couple of weeks, this happened frequently. However, eventually the actors learned where they needed to stand in order to stay on screen. It is because of interesting experiences like these that I look forward to each rehearsal.

Rui Yao Li, Remotely Kyōgen Pre-show

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