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James Astill

For James Astill's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Stage Sep 23, 1999

Through the lens of kyogen

Mansai Nomura gave his first kyogen performance at age 4, appeared in Akira Kurosawa's "Ran" at age 17 and began lecturing in aesthetics at Tokyo University when he was 25. No wonder he hadn't much time for my tardiness. I scrambled into the hotel lounge, ...

Books / Reviews Sep 15, 1999

Turn-of-the-century frolic shows nothing new under the sun

Postmodernism is a publisher's dream. Copy out "Don Quixote" verbatim and you get a cultural reinterpretation, joked Jorge Luis Borges; give an old book a new cover and you get a tribal reclamation, proclaim the editors of this Race in the Americas imprint. The result ...

Stage Aug 24, 1999

Lively National Noh Theater possessed by colorful spirit

Noh has a disorientating history. It emerged from folk rites, developed into the most popular art of its day, and has since been refined out of all recognition. Devotees maintain its accessibility, but modern Japanese are far more likely to head for Tokyo Disneyland ...

Stage Aug 1, 1999

Giving kyogen the center stage

By counterpointing the gassy comedy of kyogen with noh's abstract symbols, Japanese theater keeps body and soul together. The effect is rather like a poet ending his song -- then slipping on a banana skin. Correspondingly, when performed separately it isn't half as funny. Still, ...

Books / Reviews Jul 20, 1999

A stunning rumination on the interconnectedness of things

GHOSTWRITTEN, by David Mitchell. London: Sceptre/Hodder & Stoughton, 1998, 436 pp. (paper). Staff writer Contemporary writers love to skate between different genres, styles and settings. And "Ghostwritten," the first novel by Englishman David Mitchell, is filled with such formal trickery. It is a ...