Stage and PerformancePerformance Techniques

Kyogen techniques

Characteristics of Kyogen Acting

Kyogen has strong elements of laughter, with human weaknesses and foolishness described cheerfully and openly. It is characterized by the use of clearly articulate spoken speech and exaggerated movements. Like Noh, however, Kyogen acting has a number of rules, and their styles have made Kyogen even more expressive.

Kyogen Motions

In Kyogen where dialogue moves the story forward, a technique for cheerful speech has been developed. There are also many movement patterns that use the whole body and are exaggerated and explicit, creating eloquent and fun expression of feelings.

Characteristic 1: Expression of feelings

In Kyogen, there are set styles for expressing feelings. Emotions are demonstrated with a lot of expressiveness, which includes making a crying sound (“ehen ehen”) and laughing sound (“ha haa ha”) in combination with large movements.

Characteristic 2: Fans and kazuraoke (wig container) are used

In Kyogen performed on a stage with no backdrops and sets, a technique known as “mitate” is utilized in which familiar objects such as fans and kazuraoke are used to represent something else.

・Pouring and drinking sake
・Licking sugar
・Climbing a tree

Characteristic 3: Onomatopoeic / mimetic words and repetition

In Kyogen which has no stage sets and sound effects, performers describe the situation or the developments with their motions, as well as by saying onomatopoeic and mimetic words. To emphasize certain words, we often see a word that was said by a character being repeated by a performer playing opposite that character.

・Chewing food, “amu-amu-amu
・Opening or peeling off something, “muri-muri-muri
・Pouring some sake, “dobu-dobu-dobu

A mountain priest chews a persimmon, “amu-amu-amu

Characteristic 4: Mysterious living beings appear

Many living beings other than humans appear on a Kyogen stage. Movements that you would never see in real life, such as the movements of a mushroom or mosquito nymph, are expressed using set patterns of movements.

Characteristic 5: Kyogen's utai and dance

In Kyogen with its emphasis on spoken words, music and dance are just as important as they are in Noh. There are often scenes where a drunk character sings and dances merrily.