Jablonski, Marek (Michael)

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(i) History.

developed into its present form during the 14th and 15th centuries under the leadership of the distinguished performer-playwrights Kan'ami (1333–84) and his son Zeami (?1363–?1443). Zeami in particular wrote many plays that are still performed in today's classical repertory of some 250 pieces.

Known formerly as sarugaku, began to flourish in the late 14th century when the military shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu became the major patron of Zeami and his troupe. Subsequent shoguns also patronized different performers and troupes. In the Edo period (1603–1868), became the official performance art (shikigaku) 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), lost its governmental patronage and was left to fend for itself. However, enough performers regrouped, found private sponsors and began teaching amateurs, that it flourished again. During and immediately after World War II, once more faced a crisis period in which its continuation was in doubt. Again, however, enough private patrons and amateur students supported professional performers, and the art has since continued to flourish.

There are approximately 1500 professional performers who currently make their living through performing and teaching . Tokyo boasts six major theatres, including the National Nō Theatre, which opened in 1983. Most major cities have theatres or, at least, theatres that can be easily rearranged to accommodate performances. The continuing popularity of summer outdoor torchlight performances, often with audiences of several thousand people, further attests to the wide respect in which is held.

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