Eastern Asian Theatre

Nathan Stein

There are a lot of different theatres in Asia: Beijing Opera, Noh Drama, Kabuki, Sanskrit Drama, and Bunraku. Asian Theatre is sung, mimed, danced, and chanted.


Indian Sanskrit drama is one of the oldest Asian theaters. It was performed before the creation of Greek Tragedy. It is one of the earliest theatrical forms. Sanskrit is a sub-reconstructed Indo-Aryan language and is a philosophical language in Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism.

Japan is were both Kabuki and Noh originated.

Kabuki was first written around 1600. A Kabuki Theatre is a theatre with a very large stage. The musicians are a part of the play and they perform on stage. There are three categories of Kabuki plays: History plays, Domestic plays, and Dance-Dramas.

Noh Drama is a tragic, mysterious, supernatural, dance/music drama. There around 240 Noh plays, and they were all written around 500 years ago. Noh stages are small eighteen foot platforms. A six to ten singers are to the left of the actors and four musicians are on the back of the stage. A pine tree is painted on the backdrop.

Beijing Opera, or Peking Opera, is a Chinese Theater that includes dance, music, mime, acrobatics, and singing. It was first performed towards the end of the 18th century. It is a cultural treasure in China and is performed in Beijing, North Tianjin, South Shanghai, Taiwan, the United States, and Japan.

Bunraku is a Japanese puppet theatre that was founded in Osaka in 1684. There are three performers in a Bunraku: Ningyōzukai (Puppeteers), Tayū (Chanters), and Shamisen (Players). Sometimes instruments are used. The Omozukai uses their right hand to control the right hand of the puppet. The Hidarizukai or Sashizukai uses their right hand to control the left hand of the puppet. The Ashizukai controls the feet and legs.




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