Exhibition: From Nô to Mata Hari – 2000 Years of Asian Theatre

Musee Guimet - From Noh to Mata Hari

Exhibition dates: 15 April – 31 August 2015

This unique panorama includes exhibits that, as visible and tangible elements, form the very essence of theatre: costumes, adornments and masks. From Indian theatre costumes to Japanese nô kimonos and masks, and from Peking opera dresses to South-East Asian shadow theatre, an entire world of deities, animals and characters is brought to life.

The exhibition explores the epic and dramatic aspects that characterise the immense variety of different Asian theatrical productions. The earliest theatrical representations that have been preserved are the terracotta funeral substitutes – minqi – showing dancers and acrobats dating from the Chinese Han era (206 BC – 220 AD). The exhibition culminates with a contemporary interpretation of theatrical traditions through an astonishing presentation of Itchiku Kubota landscape kimonos in which the costume becomes an important element of stage design.

A large barong – a light-framed lion dressed in textiles or paper – welcomes visitors to the exhibition among silhouettes of modern Asian architecture, expressing the capacity for adaptation and reinvention of these ancient traditions that are still very much alive.

A large number of theatrical performances, including song and dance, will be presented in the museum’s auditorium. Besides screenings of the founding epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, a diverse programme of films and documentaries will be on offer. Mata Hari, who in 1905 performed Brahmin dances in the old library of the Musée Guimet, transformed into a small Hindu temple, before a distinguished audience of stunned orientalists, will be celebrated in the exhibition as well as through a documentary and two fiction films. The famous Chinese opera, The Peony Pavilion, will be screened in its full-length version over three days.

For more information, visit the website of the Musée Guimet, Paris.


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