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Japan Society
333 East 47th St. at First Ave.
December 10-12, $55-$85, 7:30

A Living National Treasure of Japan, Mansaku Nomura brings the troupe founded by his father in 1957, the Mansaku-no-Kai Kyogen Company, to Japan Society for three nights of performances of the six-hundred-year-old art form known as kyogen, a uniquely Japanese take on satirically comedic theater that was a kind of alternative to the much more serious noh discipline. (UNESCO has declared both to be Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.) Mansaku Nomura will be joined by his son, Mansai Nomura, and Yukio Ishida, each of whom has been designated a Holder of Important Intangible Cultural Property: Nohgaku, in three short plays each evening. In the solo piece Nasu no Yoichi, based on a chapter from The Tale of the Heike, Mansaku Nomura, who has been acting since he was three years old, trained in kyogen by his father and grandfather, portrays the title samurai who fought bravely in the Genpei War, in addition to three other characters. Mansai Nomura, who is most well known for playing Abe no Seimei in the two Onmyoji films and is also the artistic director of Setagaya Public Theatre, stars in Akutaro (Akutaro Reforms) as a young rebel seeking repentance. (Mansai Nomura was previously seen in New York City in March 2013 in Sanbaso, Divine Dance, a collaboration with Hiroshi Sugimoto that was copresented by Japan Society at the Guggenheim.) And in Bonsan (The Dwarf Tree Thief), a not-very-successful robber is intent on stealing a dwarf tree even as he’s taunted by the master of the house. At the center of kyogen is a focus on human imperfection, approached from a comic angle. Each performance will be preceded by a 6:30 lecture by Dr. Carolyn Morley, professor of Japanese literature and theater at Wellesley College. The celebration of kyogen, which means “mad words” or “wild speech,” also includes a Kyogen Movement Workshop for Kids on December 12 at 10:30 am ($20) and the adult program Kyogen Workshop: Movement + Voice on December 12 at 2:00 ($55), led by Mansai Nomura.

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