Harris, John Wesley
After studying English at St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge, John Wesley Harris taught drama at Brisbane in Australia, devised the first university course in television in England at Birmingham, and finally settled in Hull, where he taught theatre history and mask making and directed many productions. His book, Medieval Theatre in Context (Routledge, 1992) proved popular, and he contributed articles on medieval theatre to the new Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance, published in 2003.2006 0-7734-5798-4
There has never been a comprehensive survey in English of all the main forms of traditional Japanese drama – kyogen, noh, kabuki and puppetry. Individual works have been written on each form in abundance, some of them in English, and the majority of them are excellent, but they do not make the reader aware of the close connections between all of these older theatrical forms – their common origins in sacred dance, the high degree of stylization they all share, the selectivity in their use of gesture, the symbolic function of costume, the strict code of honour, which westerners often find so difficult to understand, and the heady mixture of violence with the appreciation of elegant form and a fragile, ephemeral beauty. The forms and conventions of theatre involved are also unique and challenge many of the theories that have been developed about the western stage. In fact, traditional Japanese drama is an area of theatre which should form an essential part of every dramatic specialist’s education.