Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts



First Advisor

Karen Kopryanski

Second Advisor

Dr. Keith Byron Kirk

Third Advisor

Dr. Jesse Njus


Noh theatre is a traditional Japanese theatre practice that focuses on isolated and intentional physicality and separating actor personality from character. It is an imaginative and heightened performance that differs greatly from Western theatrical realism. This thesis examines Noh theatre, its origins, and why it should be more implemented into Western acting pedagogy. I start by describing what Noh is as an art form, from the ritualistic aspects to how it is staged and performed. Then I outline the religious and historical significance of Noh and how they are showcased in its storytelling and performance. I analyze the pedagogies of Japanese practitioners Zeami and Tadashi Suzuki and compare them to traditional theatre pedagogies found in the West. My research into the comparison of Noh and Western theatre practice extends into audience reception theory. My findings reveal that Japanese audiences are drawn to Noh because they are attracted to the alienating and abstract nature of the theatre form, whereas Western audiences want to get lost in a relatable narrative. Noh characters and stories are spiritual and fantastical, and it is not concerned with establishing a sense of place or time, further differentiating itself from realism. I conclude by reporting my personal experience from witnessing Noh performance at the National Noh Theatre in Tokyo.


© Baylee A. Holloran

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