David Surtasky, director of production for the Lively Arts at IUP, and alumnus Greg Giovanni are both members of the international performance group Theatre Nohgaku. The troupe has been invited to perform in four Asian cities in June and July 2011.
Both are alumni of IUP’s Department of Theater and Dance. Surtasky graduated in 1989 and Giovanni graduated in 1984.
Surtasky is pictured at left performing inPagoda.
Surtasky and Giovanni will perform in the contemporary English-language noh play Pagoda and will provide support for the traditional play Takasago. The 2011 Asia tour of this unique performance will open on the evening of June 28 with a performance at the National Noh Theatre in Tokyo, followed by performances at the Kongo Noh Theatre in Kyoto on June 30, Peking University on July 2, Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts on July 4, and the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts on July 6.
Noh (能 Nō), or Nogaku (能楽 Nōgaku), is derived from the Japanese word for “skill” or “accomplishment.” It is a major form of classical Japanese musical drama that has been performed since the fourteenth century.
The Oshima Noh Theatre (Kita-ryu school) of Hiroshima, Japan, is collaborating with Theatre Nohgaku for this classical and contemporary theater. The two companies premiered Pagoda to packed houses in a European tour in 2009 to London, Dublin, Oxford, and Paris. Pagoda will feature lead actress Oshima Kinue, the only currently acknowledged female professional of the Kita-ryu.
Takasago is a popular Japanese classical fifteenth-century “god” noh play by an unknown author.
Pagoda is an English-language noh play by Jannette Cheong, with music by Theatre Nohgaku artistic director Richard Emmert. It is based on the true story of the author’s grandmother, who sent her youngest son away to sea when he was a young boy to save him from the famine ravaging rural China in the 1920s. After his death in London in 1973, playwright Cheong went to find her father’s birthplace. Her experiences are combined with an ancient Chinese legend to form the foundation of the play.
The project includes “Getting to Noh,” a program of public workshops, lectures, and educational activities to introduce the dance, music, costumes, and masks of Japanese noh theater to a broader audience. Bunka-cho (the Japanese Cultural Ministry) and Mitsubishi Electric have underwritten major portions of the tour with the cooperation of the British Council and government agencies of Japan, China, and Hong Kong.
Theatre Nohgaku, based in Tokyo and New York, was in residence in Indiana for rehearsals during the 2007 Noh Training Project hosted by the College of Fine Arts.