Competitive Sarugaku

Question raised by: Noel John Pinnington

Discussants: Barbara Nostrand , Lewis Cook, Eric Rath

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Date: Tue, 19 Mar 2002 07:42:23 +0900
From: Noel John Pinnington
Subject: Competitive Sarugaku

Does anyone know of any studies that consider in detail the nature and
sites of performance competitions, particularly those among sarugaku
troupes, in the medieval period?

Winning competitions is an important topic in Zeami's Fushikaden, where
they are called tachiai. This term can mean simultaneous performance -
usually of Okina - and also alternating performance of different plays.
Fushikaden seems to be referring to the second type, although Sarugaku
Dangi relates two cases where an actor was laughed at doing the first
type, implying that it too was done with a competitive spirit. Records
of kanjin sarugaku in the 14th and 15th century have only one troupe, so
they cannot have been competitive. Zenchiku writes about about
Yoshimitsu having leading performers appraised and criticized, so there
seems to have been an arena where they were compared separate from their
ritual duties at Kasuga-Kofukuji.

Nogaku Genryuko has little to say on the topic, neither does Iwanami
Koza: No Kyogen. If anyone knows anything about this topic, I would be
grateful for pointers.

Noel Pinnington

Date: Mon, 18 Mar 2002 21:02:12 -0500
From: Barbara Nostrand
Subject: Re: Competitive Sarugaku

I am also generally interested in premodern theatre including sarugaku-Noh
and Kowakamai. I would like to learn about performance competitions in
any theatrical form. In short. If you have an answer, to the original
question, please cc. me as well. Thank you very much.

Barbara Nostrand
Date: Thu, 21 Mar 2002 23:22:50 -0500
From: Lewis Cook
Subject: Re: Competitive Sarugaku

Dear Prof. Pinnington,

An important and interesting topic, yes; perhaps the reason for no replies is not lack of interest but lack of data. How much can be known about the early history of noh or sarugaku, given the nature of the sources, after all? Not at all my field, but have you read Matsuoka Shinpei (Utage no shintei, etc.)? Might be something there apropos your query.

Lewis Cook

Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2002 09:38:54 +0900
From: Noel John Pinnington
Subject: Competitive Sarugaku


Thank you for your suggestions, Prof. Cook and others privately. There is a
well-known essay by Kato Shuichi in Zeami Zenchiku (NKST) that discusses the
role of competition in the development of poetic and dramatic criticism, and
particularly its impact on Zeami's thought.. It was an important stimulus
for me long ago, but I wanted to be more precise about what occasions
actually were competitive, without re-inventing the wheel, so to speak (I
suspect that it only had a significant impact on troupes' fortunes for a
limited period.) There is in fact a good deal of evidence, it just needs
some laborious work.

For those who were kind enough to show an interest in the Dengaku book,
it is Iida Michio's Dengaku Ko: dengaku mai no genryu, Rinkawa Shoten, 1999.
The author enjoys being provocative - calling Kannami a dengaku actor, for
example. His remarks about dengaku and competition are rather limited -
he refers to the right and left guards being in charge of dengaku at various
regular performances at court, states that they competed, and links this to
the awase traditions. The book is full of interesting readings of dengaku
traditions, however.

Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2002 16:16:21 -0600
From: Eric Rath
Subject: Re: Competitive Sarugaku

Dear Noel,

I just saw your posting about competitive (tachiai) sarugaku performances, and I recalled that the New Years (utaizome) performances for the Muromachi and Tokugawa shogun had a competitive dimension among the troupes that participated especially in the Tokugawa period when thefour Yamato troupes alternated in their performances of noh, with two (plus the Kita) performing for the shogun each year. The finale of these performances in the Tokugawa period was always Yumiya tachiai in which the three leaders of the noh troupes participating danced simultaneously. (This is depicted in an 18th century painting by the noh performer Fukuo Morikatsu (Sesshin), iemoto of the Fukuo school of waki), which is in the collection of the Kanze family. Contemporary records describe how the actors and their troupe's received rewards after their performances. I am not sure whether these were customary or based on an evaluation ofthe performance itself.

For the Muromachi period, look at the texts Nenju joreiki, Ouchi mondo, Sogoozoshi and denju moshitsugiki, which are all in the same volume of Gunsho ruiju, vol 22 (bukebu). I wrote about Edo period utaizome in chapter 7 of my dissertation: "Actors of Influence."