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“Scylla: A Noh Play”

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Clay, Cynthia Joyce (American playwright, author, actor, dirctor, August 4, 1957-____), “Scylla: A Noh Play,”

a 30-minute Noh play in English, set on a beach, day, ancient Greece,

3m1f, 2m2f, or 1m3f (variable casting + optional group chorus)

; • © 1981 by Cynthia Joyce Clay; • in Cynthia Joyce Clay’s Scylla: A Noh Play (Miami, Florida, U.S.A.: The Author, 1981); • script/rights available from Cynthia Joyce Clay, e-mail cynthea@bellsouth.net, telephone (home) 305-953-3697. • Cited by Cynthia Joyce Clay via ftp July 31, 2003; Clay says,

  §  Dramatis Personae Priest/Priestess (m), 30-90, possessor of supernatural power; Chorus (m or group), any age, denizen of the city; Flutist (m or f), player of music and special effects; Scylla (f), young, beautiful princess of ancient Greece.

  §  Synopsis “A Priest walks along the beach observed by a townsperson (the Chorus). Scylla enters, crossing the beach to the water, preparing to drown herself. The Priest entreats her not to kill herself. The townsperson observes, remembering that once before the Priest failed to stop a young woman from committing suicide. The Priest’s prayers unexpectedly cause Scylla’s dead father to possess her spirit. The Priest prays for them both. The invading ghost flees, freed of anger and revenge.

  §  Comment “‘Scylla,’ based on a Greek myth, is meant to performed in the manner of Japanese Noh plays. Therefore, the setting, staging, and costuming should all match that theme. A Flutist opens the play with the traditional flute call and provides music and effects. Movement is slow, stylized, and dance-like with the spirit possession done as a slow, stylized dance. While the stage is bare in Noh productions, the costuming is exquisite, elegant, and beautiful—even ‘peasant’ clothing. Recommended costuming is either kimonos or beautiful Greek garb; however, any stylized, beautiful costuming that is arresting to the eye would be suitable. Noh theater presents divine reality as opposed to mundane reality; which is why movement is stylized and costuming extraordinarily beautiful. ‘Scylla: A Noh Play,’ written as part of the requirements for a university course on Japanese literature, later placed in the top 100 of some 6,000 entries in the Writers Digest Writing Contest (contending with all forms of fiction and poetry). In 1981, it was produced by The Saturn Return Theater, Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.A., with Richard Lehnert as director; it was well received. Though only one flutist is really essential, a jazz band liked the play and were intrigued by Noh flute music and graciously performed for that production the music and effects using Western drums and flutes in a haunting, Noh-like style. Costumes were real kimonos. One woman played the Chorus; the actor playing Scylla altered her voice for the possession, but, probably better, the Flutist could speak the ghostly lines. After the production, I became interested in other endeavors, and Scylla sat in the filing cabinet until I found this site!”

  §  Themes ghost play, guilt, Noh drama (late nineteenth century, Japan), pagan drama, redemption.

This Website continues under construction and welcomes new citations and comments.

Page mounted July 31, 2003, and updated August 1, 2003, by the Webmaster.

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