Scenic Techniques

Techniques for moving and manipulating scenery

Carrying in the bell in Dōjōji
Carrying in the bell in the noh piece Dōjōji
(GloPAD Image 1000071)

1. Moving set pieces

In noh, set pieces (tsukurimono) are carried in by stage attendants (kōken), usually at the beginning of an act. In the piece Dōjōji, an enormous bell is carried in before the first act and carried off at the end of the play.

hikidogu images
A set recedes on a wheeled platform in the kabuki Kanadehon Chūshingura
(GloPAD Image ID 1006467)

In kabuki, some set pieces are pulled on low, wheeled platforms (hikidōgu). A well-known example is the movement upstage of the Akō Castle in act 4 of Kanadehon Chūshingura.

Flipping set piece
An overturning set in Benten Kozō
(GloPAD Image 1005726; see also GloPAD Image 1005727)

2. Gandōgaeshi (dondengaeshi): Folding set pieces backward

This is a technique in kabuki in which a three-dimensional building is flipped backward and a new background appears on the bottom of the original set piece. This technique was first used in Osaka in 1762. The most elaborate example is from Benten the Thief.

Thumbnail Image
In this video, the ōseri is used to pull sets offstage or lift them into view.
(GloPAD Video 1006464)

3. Raising set pieces on a large trap (ōseri)

In Benten the Thief, after the temple set is flipped to reveal a new background, an elaborate gate (set piece) arises on the large trap (ōseri).

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