Loading Events

« All Events

The Life and Work of Noh Actor Akira Matsui (interviewed by Margaret Coldiron)

September 18 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm BST

Akira Matsui is a master actor-teacher of the Kita School of Japanese classical noh theatre. Matsui was born in 1946 and began studying noh at the age of seven. He showed such talent that, at age 12, he became a “live-in apprentice” to Kita Minoru, the 15th generation of noh masters of the Kita School (one of the five guilds of shite main role actors). From his firm foundation in tradition, Matsui has experimented in intercultural fusions. He has acted in productions of plays by Shakespeare, W.B. Yeats, and Beckett, and has written plays based on Rashoman and Hoichi. Together with American noh composer-performer Richard Emmert, he has created a series of English Noh including St. Francis, At the Hawk’s Well, and Eliza. In addition, he has choreographed noh-style dances to jazz ballads and to poetry by T.S. Eliot. In 1998, he was designated an Important Intangible Cultural Asset by the Japanese government. In 2016, Matsui was awarded an honorary doctorate by Royal Holloway, University of London, in recognition of his status as a Noh master and for his long record of achievement in bringing Noh to new international audiences. Join noh scholar Margaret Coldiron as Matsui reflects on his life, his achievements, and his belief that noh has much to offer contemporary international performance.


Matsui Akira performs Takasago at the Southbank Centre, London, January 2020. Photo: Clive Barda/ArenaPal


Dr Margaret Coldiron is a theatre director, performer, teacher and a specialist in Asian performance and masks. She is the author of Trance and Transformation of the Masked Actor in Japanese Noh and Balinese Dance Drama (Mellen Press 2004) and has published widely on masks, Asian and intercultural performance and actor training.


Part of the Nogaku education and outreach programme. Click here for the full programme.


September 18
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm BST
Event Category:


Royal Asiatic Society
14 Stephenson Way
London,NW1 2HDUnited Kingdom
+44 (0)20 7388 4539
View Venue Website