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Noh is a classical Japanese performance form which combines elements of dance drama music and poetry into one highly aesthetic stage art Largely based in the cities of Tokyo Osaka and Kyoto it is performed throughout the country by professional artists mainly men who have passed down the art among family members for numerous generations There is also a wide following of both male and female amateurs who practice and perform its chant dance and instruments Kyogen is the classical comic theater which balances the more serious Noh While Noh is musical in nature Kyogen emphasizes dialogue The two are traditionally performed alternately on the same program and they share a common heritage In addition to their own Kyogen repertoire of comic plays Kyogen actors usually appear in interlude roles in Noh plays Similarly Noh instrumentalists also sometimes appear in Ky gen plays The training methods of the two forms are also similar Noh developed into its present form during the 14th and 15th centuries under the leadership of the distinguished performer -playwrights Kannami and his son Zeami Zeami in particular wrote numerous plays which are still performed in todays classical reper-tory of some 250 plays He also wrote a number of secret works which explain the aesthetic principles governing Noh and give details on how the art should be composed acted directed taught and produced Noh flourished during Zeamis time under the patronage of the mili-tary shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu Later during the Edo period 1603-1868 Noh became the official performance art of the military government Feudal military lords throughout the country supported their own troupes and many studied and performed the art themselves With the societal reforms of the Meiji period 1868-1912 Noh lost its govern mental patronage and was left to fend for itself Although it nearly died out enough performers regrouped found private spon-sors and began teaching the art to amateurs so that it slowly began to flourish again
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