The Secrets of Noh Masks
Gorgeous photos and insightful text introduce the work of today's foremost Noh mask artist, actor, and teacher.
"To me, the work of Noh acting and that of maskmaking are indivisible, and I have been responsible for the production of numerous Noh masks while developing my career on the Noh stage. It's too early to know if my masks will stand the test of time. What I can say with certainty is that they are masks into which I've poured my soul as an actor, masks that come alive on the stage. This I attribute to perfoming from a young age under a great master, in the process of being privileged to encounter many venerable examples of the maskmaker's craft. It was an enviable learning environment enjoyed by only a fortunate few and the patient guidance of an inspiring instructor that brought me to where I am today. This book presents thirty-two if ny favorite creations, all masks I use on stage. I hope they will open a window into the world of Noh and encourage the reader to explore this ancient performing art further. For in the subtle interplay of light and shadow in Noh masks lies the yugen of Noh: the legacy of Zeami." - Michishige Udaka, from the Preface to The Secrets of Noh Masks
Noh, in which a mere handful of performers employ a range of intricately understated movements and gestures to weave myriad tales on a compact stage, must be one of the world's simplest forms of theater. This simplicity, with only a very limited number of stage props and sets, means that masks have played a sustaining and decisive role in Noh since its emergence over six centuries ago. Noh masks, with their unique and nuanced fusion of real and imaginary, may be carved from wood to fixed designs, but the subtle movements of a talented, well-trained actor render them infinitely expressive. Making a Noh mask demands profound insight into the relevant role, combined with an original interpretation. While on stage, the mask must embody the actor's intentions perfectly. To fulfill these two requirements simultaneously and add an extra dimension to his performances, Michishige Udaka makes his own masks. In The Secrets of Noh Masks, Udaka reveals how, as a maskmaker, he relates to the character represented by the mask, and how as an actor, he relates to the mask. This extraordinary book explores this synergy and opens up a realm of flesh-and-blood humanity as subtle and striking in the 21st century as it was over 600 years ago.