Ky?gen (literally “mad words” or “wild speech”) is a form of traditional Japanese comic theater. It developed alongside Noh, was performed along with Noh as an intermission of sorts between Noh acts, on the same Noh stage, and retains close links to Noh in the modern day; therefore, it is sometimes designated Noh-ky?gen. However, its content is not at all similar to the formal, symbolic, and solemn Noh theater; ky?gen is a comical form, and its primary goal is to make its audience laugh. Ky?gen is sometimes compared to the Italian comic form of commedia dell’arte, which developed around the same period (14th century) and likewise features stock characters. It also has parallels with the Greek satyr play, a short, comical play performed between tragedies.
Japan Arts Council Comprehensive website on all aspects of Noh and Kyogen theatre. Includes excellent articles on the history of Kyogen, costumes and props used in performance, masks and types of plays. Optional installation of Japanese language pack, though this is not essential.
Lee A Makela Brief background to various traditional Japanese theatre forms, including Kyogen.
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