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Zeami's collected theoretical writings, along with those of his son-in-law Komparu Zenchiku, form the primary corpus of nogakuron. Zeami's early treatises are driven by a tension between two contrasting ideals, yugen and monomane. The most prominent aesthetic ideal in Zeami's writings is hana, the Flower. Zeami is famous for his extensive treatment of jo-ha-kyu. Zeami wrote only one treatise on the art of playwriting, The Three Paths. For woman plays, the ideal protagonist roles are Heian court ladies. In an early treatise, Kabu zuinoki, Zenchiku reveals his deep fascination with waka. Zenchiku is best known for his original theoretical construct rokurin ichiro. The treatises of Zeami and Zenchiku provide invaluable insight into the formative years of noh drama. Zeami constantly strives to adjust his art to a level of refinement suitable for his audience. This is evidence of a medieval concern with the process of reception, with affective theory, due to the social nature of the era's dominant literary arts.
This chapter focuses on the scripted elements of the noh plays. The plays of the time of the noted playwright Zeami and his pupils were more constrained in structure. The Okina sarugaku performance tradition shares some elements with that of noh plays, but there are fundamental differences between the two, for example in the structure of their masks and conventions of costume and dance. Sotoba Komachi and Jinen Koji by Kanami and Ukai by Saemon Goro of the Enami troupe may be taken as representative of the Heian period. Zeami's importance in the tradition of noh plays derives not so much from his fame as an actor in his lifetime, but rather from the fact that his style of play came to dominate the later repertoire. The content of his plays reflected the passion of Kyoto high society for the classical literature of the Heian court and the Heike monogatari.
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