Academic journal article Multicultural Shakespeare

Noh Creation of Shakespeare

Academic journal article Multicultural Shakespeare

Noh Creation of Shakespeare

Article excerpt

Multicultural Shakespeare: Translation, Appropriation and Performance vol. 14 (29), 2016; DOI: 10.1515/mstap-2016-0018

Abstract: This article contains select comments and reviews on Noh Hamlet and Noh Othello in English and Noh King Lear in Japanese. The scripts from these performances were arranged based on Shakespeares originals and directed on stage and performed in English by Kuniyoshi Munakata from the early 1980s until 2014. Also, the whole text of Munakatas Noh Macbeth in English (Munakata himself acted as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in one play) is for the first time publicized. The writers of the comments and reviews include notable people such as John Fraser, Michael Barrett, Upton Murakami, Donald Richie, Rick Ansorg, James David Audlin, Jesper Keller, Jean-Claude Saint-Marc, Jean-Claude Baumier, Judy Kendall, Allan Owen, Yoshio ARAI, Yasumasa OKAMOTO, Tatsuhiko TAIRA, Hikaru ENDO, Kazumi YAMAGATA, Hanako ENDO, Yoshiko KAWACHI, Mari Boyd, and Daniel Gallimore.

Keywords: Noh, Noh Shakespeare, Zen, Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, King Lear, Cordelia, Madam Reiko ADACHI, Kuniyoshi Munakata UEDA


In 1974, I had a chance to show Hamlets first soliloquy as a Noh Dance for the music class of Professor John Ward at Emerson Hall at Harvard University. As I was still unable to sing in English, I just spoke the speech and showed the dance (motion) in Noh style. (Cf. Eigo Bungaku Sekai, 1975). Then, I was invited to play the same dance at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, and was offered the work of directing a new Irish play at the theatre. Unfortunately I was unable to accept the work.

Back in Japan in 1975, I continued my study of Noh dance and chant under Makio (now Manzaburo) Umewaka and completed Noh Hamlet in English in 1981, the script and the song music.

I have already written on various publications (Cf. Shakespeare Translation, 9 and others) on the difficulty of Noh chanting in English and how The Noh Shakespeare Group with hardships premiered Noh Hamlet and Noh Othello in English. On the musical notations for singing and instruments, see

Professor Emeritus, Shizuoka National University.

Kuniyoshi Munakata

Noh Creation of Shakespeare


Kuniyodhi Munakata

Hamlet in Noh Style, Noh Othello in English and Japanese, and Noh Adaptation of Shakespeare.

In this paper, I will record some precious comments and reviews on Noh Hamlet and Noh Othello in English, and publicize for the first time the whole text (script) of Noh Macbeth and some important comments and reviews on Noh King Lear.

Noh Hamlet

John Fraser, Director, The London Shakespeare Group, seeing Noh Hamlet at Daigo-so Noh Stage in Iwata City, Shizuoka Prefecture, November 7, 1982):

I know very little about Noh. Ive seen it two or three times when Ive been in Japan before. But this time I was most impressed, because it helped me get a glimmer of understanding of Noh because I knew what Hamlet was about I was tremendously impressed with what appeared to me as a long meditation, or certainly the incredible stillness, which went on for such a long time. It seemed to me to be true, in a Noh spirit, to the kind of dilemma and torture of whatever Hamlet was experiencing. It seemed to me that he had a lot of things to ponder. But the incredible thing is that it is impressive purely as a feat, and as it was in the middle of the play it lent a very beautiful mood

Well, I should say, not a criticism, that I dont think it reveals a lot of Hamlet. It reveals a lot of Noh. But then, you see, Shakespeare himself hardly ever invented plots; he changed them So you are actually following the Shakespeare tradition in taking Hamlet and doing him in Noh style. But it is not really the play that Shakespeare wrote; its from Shakespeare, but a Noh version Nevertheless, Im sure that I can use some ideas in our productions which are unique to Noh and which you are using now. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.