Noh at the Claremont Colleges

Scripps and Pomona Colleges celebrate Noh theater this fall, with exhibitions, lectures, and the world premier of a concert.


This fall, Scripps and Pomona Colleges are celebrating all things Noh, a vital branch of Japanese theater. All of the following events are open to the public: join us in this celebration of Japanese theater, music, and visual arts.

August 31 – October 7
Scripps Clark Humanities Museum
Acting Out: Japanese Prints of the Ichikawa Lineage

In the late 17th c. the Ichikawa family of kabuki actors created stage roles that emphasized fantastic costumes and exaggerated gestures. Print artists were challenged to capture these dramatic poses and to advertise the various members of an acting lineage that has continued for cover 300 years. This exhibition highlights the “rough style / aragoto” roles developed by generations of performers bearing the prestigious name “Ichikawa Danjuro.”

This exhibition is in conjunction with the Scripps College art history seminar “Japanese Theater Prints.”

October 17 – November 19
Scripps Clark Humanities Museum
“The Tale of Genji”: Reimagined
For more information:  Noh on Facebook

This exhibition will explore and celebrate the creative power behind Scripps College’s collection of art objects related to the 11th century novel “The Tale of Genji.” This exhibition will also set the stage for the October 29 premiere of a musical work by composer Dr. Koji Nakano titled Imagined Sceneries. Similar to the art objects that will be exhibited, Nakano’s musical work is an artistic re-imagining of “The Tale of Genji” and its Heian Kyoto landscape. Its performance in the museum will employ digital projections of ten prints from Ebina Masao’s “Tale of Genji” print series from Scripps’ holdings. These prints, which each depict a chapter from “The Tale,” inspired Nakano’s composition process and his selection of texts from “The Tale of Genji.” The exhibition is curated by Isabella Ramos, SCR ’17.

Monday, October 24 – Friday, October 28
4:15 to 5:30 pm in Large Studio, Pomona Seaver Theatre
Noh Class
Members of the Kongo Noh School, Kyoto

Tuesday October 25
12 to 1 pm in Scripps Hampton Room
Tuesday Noon Academy: “Introduction to Living Composition: A New Approach to Asian Music, Culture and Spirituality”
Dr. Koji Nakano, Burapha University, Thailand
For more information, please visit the Scripps events page  or Facebook

Over the last several years, Dr. Koji Nakano has composed cross-cultural works for Western and traditional Asian instruments, collaborating with musicians, dancers, and filmmakers in Asia, the U.S., and Europe. The idea of living composition is to explore solutions to problems of cross-cultural esthetics and musical elements, as well as to redefine the role of the modern composer in the multicultural society of the 21st century. In this lecture, Nakano, the Head of International Affairs Faculty of Music and Performing Arts Burapha University, Thailand, will examine the incorporation of Asian vocal and instrumental techniques into Western musical languages, using his own compositions as a guide, and discuss how hybrid musical elements are influenced by his heritage. He will also discuss the creative process behind Imagined Sceneries, a piece co-commissioned by Isabella Ramos ’17 and Associate Professor of Music Anne Harley, which will premiere this October at Scripps.

12 to 1 pm in Pomona Oldenborg Language Center
“Finding the Form of Feeling: the Noh mask carver’s quest and solutions along the way.”
Rebecca Teele-Ogamo

Wednesday, October 26
8 pm to 9:30 pm in Pomona Seaver Theatre
“Invitation to Noh: Traditional Masked Drama of Japan”

A lecture-performance by Tatsushige Udaka and members of the Kongo Noh Theatre, Kyoto
Noh is a traditional Japanese musical drama which is the oldest major theatre art in the world still regularly performed today. For this event, “Hagoromo (Celestial Feather Robe)” will be performed with mask and costumes by actors from the Kongo school, Kyoto.

Thursday, October 27
12 pm to 1 pm in Pomona Oldenborg Language Center
“The World of Noh Through the Eyes of a Performer”
Tatsushige Udaka

Friday, October 28
8 pm in Scripps Steele Hall 101
“The Who and Why of Japanese Theater Prints”
by Professor Katherine Saltzman-Li,
University of California Santa Barbara

This lecture will explore the content and consumption of Japanese woodblock prints for the kabuki and Noh theaters, with emphasis on the intentions of the actors, print producers and audiences responsible for their existence.

Saturday, October 29
1-2 pm, Pre-Concert Panel on Intercultural Arts Collaboration in Scripps Clark Humanities Museum with award-winning composer Dr. Koji Nakano, co-commissioners of Imagined Sceneries Isabella Ramos (SCR ’17) and Prof. Anne Harley (SCR), and co-director Prof. Giovanni Ortega (PO).

3-4:30 pm in Scripps Balch Auditorium
“Faces of Passion and Regret: Women in Noh”
Rebecca Ogamo-Teele and members of Kongo Noh Theatre, Kyoto

Noh is a traditional Japanese musical drama which is the oldest major theatre art in the world still regularly performed today. This event, which explores the roles of women in Noh, will be performed with mask and costumes by Rebecca Ogamo-Teele and actors from the Kongo school, Kyoto.

Rebecca Ogamo-Teele describes the event: “After considering the extremes of masks for vengeful roles to the subtleties of masks that mirror fleeting regret, examples of the actor’s physical expression of these emotions through dance will be given, culminating in a costumed presentation from the Noh Hashitomi The Lattice Shutter, a nostalgic reverie of love based on episodes and characters of The Tale of Genji.”

Co-sponsored by Pomona College Department of Theatre & Dance for the Claremont Colleges, Pomona College President’s Office, Japan Foundation, Oldenborg Center for Modern Languages and International Relations, Pacific Basin Institute, Five College Asian Studies, Pomona Public Events, Pomona College Wig Fund for Teaching Innovation, Aoki Endowment for Japanese Arts and Cultures

4:45-5:15 pm in the Scripps Clark Humanities Museum
World Premiere
Imagined Sceneries (2016) by Koji Nakano (Burapha University, Thailand)
Chamber Music co-commissioned by Isabella Ramos (SC ’17) and Prof. Anne Harley (SCR)
Yukiko Matsuyama, koto
Prof. David Rentz (Chaffey College), conductor
Prof. Giovanni Ortega (PO), co-director
Prof. Stacey Fraser (Cal State San Bernardino), Anne Harley & Isabella Ramos, sopranos
5C Student Chamber Ensemble

For more information: Imagined Sceneries
RSVP (recommended): Imagined Sceneries RSVP

Imagined Sceneries is a new musical work for solo vocalists, koto (a Japanese instrument), narrators, light percussion and electronically manipulated soundscapes written by Dr. Koji Nakano and co-commissioned by Scripps Associate Professor of Music Anne Harley and Isabella Ramos SC ’17. Its world premiere at Scripps College features students, faculty and Grammy Award-winning koto player Yukiko Matsuyama. With the Heian-era novel The Tale of Genji as his point of departure, Nakano explores attitudes towards life, society, and nature that are universally shared regardless of time and culture in his new musical work. Imagined Sceneries draws inspiration from The Tale of Genji text and from print artist Ebina Masao’s 1953 series Tale of Genji from the Scripps Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery Collection. With its striking juxtaposition of new and old, Imagined Sceneries reimagines, or “re-sounds” Kyoto landscapes from The Tale of Genji that have since been burned out, relocated and rebuilt.

Panel and premiere co-sponsored by Scripps Erma Taylor O’Brien Distinguished Visiting Professorship, Scripps Office of Public Events and Community Programs, Scripps Clark Humanities Museum, Scripps Department of Music, EnviroLab Asia, Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity, Mellon Undergraduate Research in the Humanities & Social Sciences Pre-Thesis Fellowship, Hearst Foundation Senior Thesis Research Fellowship Fund

7-9 pm in the Scripps Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery
Opening Reception, On Stage: Japanese Theater Prints and Costumes
(October 29 – December 17)

Curated by Prof. Bruce Coats (Scripps Art History)

Prints depicting scenes from Japanese theater feature prominently in the Scripps collection of over 2400 Japanese prints. The collection provided ample material for this exhibition, which focuses on themes related to Kabuki, Bunraku and Noh theater. Costumes and masks will also be on view. The exhibition was organized by Prof. Bruce Coats, who teaches art history and the humanities at Scripps.

Dressing and Crossdressing Actors in Japan
November 28 – December 16, 2016
Clark Humanities Museum

Until the 20th century, male actors usually played female roles on stage in Japan, and the role of the onnagata was an important part of the Kabuki theater tradition. This exhibition highlights those actors as depicted in woodblock prints and illustrated books. Works will be selected and described by students in the Scripps College “Japanese Prints” seminar.