Salz Jonah

J-GLOBAL         Last updated: Aug 10, 2019 at 12:46
Salz Jonah
Ryukoku University
Faculty of International Studies,Department of Intercultural Communication
Job title
Ph.d.(New York University, Tisch School of the Arts)
Other affiliation
Noho Theatre GropTraditional Theatre Training


Jonah Salz is an American theatre director, teacher, translator, and scholar based in Kyoto, Japan. Born in Buffalo, NY in 1956, Salz became interested in the theatre through ushering at the Studio Arena Theatre. Majoring in British literature with a minor in drama at Haverford College, he was arts editor for the News for two years and directed the Summer Theatre Festival there in his senior year. Upon graduation, he worked for Inter-action, a community education/theatre cooperative in northern London dedicated to innovative projects (City Farms; Community Publishing, Almost-free Lunchtime Theatre). As producer ED Berman’s assistant, Salz helped coordinate publicity and promotion for Tom Stoppard’s Dirty Linen/Newfoundland in London and the first UK/U.S. tour of the British American Repertory Company (BARC).
Seeking to discover the universal roots of world theatre, he taught English while enjoying a wealth of traditional theatre and ritual in Japan in 1980. Planning to stay six months before beginning a career as a theatre critic and/or director in the U.S., he found the culture and theatre rich and deep, and has lived in Kyoto, on and off, since then.
He received a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from New York University (1997), studying avant-garde theatre (Michael Kirby), popular theatre (Brooks MacNamara), performance theory (Richard Schechner), and the aesthetics of everyday life (Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett). His master’s thesis examined the intercultural frictions and fruit of the first tour abroad by a Japanese theatre company, Sada Yacco and Otojirô Kawakami, in 1899-1900. His dissertation describes the required “roles of passage” that a kyogen (classical comedy) actor performs between ages three and eighty in order to become a full-fledged professional. He has written about intercultural theatre theory, Beckett in noh interpretation, acting training cross-culturally, and the challenges of translating comedy. He is theatre editor for Kansai Time Out.
Salz has taught Japanese film, anthropology, and theatre at Kansai University of Foreign Studies, Doshisha University, New York University, Portland State University, and Franklin & Marshall College. In 1996 he became a founding member of the Faculty of Intercultural Communication (now International Studies), a 45-person college at Ryukoku University, the oldest, largest Buddhist university in Japan. Salz has taught undergraduate and graduate courses, in Japanese to Japanese and international students, in traditional Japanese theatre, Euro-American Theatre, comparative theatre, and film. He has received short-term research grants to Europe, and funding for comparative actor training in the U.S., Korea, Bali, and Japan. He was a faculty fellow at Wesleyan University’s Center for the Humanities, researching comparative acting and aesthetics; and visiting scholar at SOAS (School for Oriental and Asian Studies), London; and the East Asian Department, University of California, Berkeley.
Co-founding the Noho Theatre Group with kyogen actor Akira Shigeyama in 1981, Salz directs and produces plays by Shakespeare, Beckett, and others interpreted via noh and kyogen techniques. Noho is comprised of professional noh and kyogen actors collaborating with both Japanese and foreign contemporary artists. They have toured the U.S. four times, the Edinburgh Fringe Theatre Festival, Avignon Festival. In 2006 they visited Florence, Italy and in 2007, Paris to perform Beckett short plays at the centenary celebrations of the playwright. To gather international artists interested in fusion theatre, Salz began the Traditional Theatre Training program in 1984, an intensive summer workshop in classical dance and theatre forms. T.T.T. was taken as an official project by Kyoto City’s Kyoto Art Center in 2004; Salz continued as Program Director through 2015; he now advises T.T.T., now in its 35th year.
As translator, Salz has co-translated (with Laurence R. Kominz) Yukio Mishima’s modern noh play Yuya, Hirata Oriza’s Beyond the River in May, Issey Ogata’s monodramas (with Tomoko Onabe), and Takeshi Umehara’s “super-kyogen” trilogy (with Onabe). He has translated and coordinated the subtitles and narration for This is Kyogen and This is Noh videos (available through Insight Media in the U.S.); and subtitles for Mansai Nomura’s staging of Rashomon (In the thicket, M & O 2005).

Research Areas


Academic & Professional Experience

Apr 2016
Sep 2016
visiting scholar, East Asian Studies、U California, Berkeley
Sep 2011
Mar 2012
SOAS London Japanese Studies

Published Papers

Noh Theatre's Desperate Measures: Creative Crisis, Fall 2018, Kyoto
Salz Jonah
International Studies   23 65-88   Mar 2019   [Refereed]
Media and organization experimentation to gain new spectators/styles for noh during time of public's diminishing interest.
“Conflicted loyalties: in “English Kabuki”: Portland’s
Salz Jonah
Asian Theatre Journal   35(1)    Jun 2018   [Refereed]
「狂言の笑いをどう英訳するか――翻訳喜劇のさまざまな戦略」(How can one translate kyogen’s comedy into English: Various strategies for translating comedy)
Jonah Salz
芸術・メディアのカルチュラルスタディーズ      2009
“Tradition meets Technohlogy: Integrating Japanese Noh & New Technology in Shakespeare’s Macbeth”
Jonah Salz, Asako Soga, Masahito Shiba
BST (Body, Science, and Technology)   9(1)    2010


「狂言の笑いをどう英訳するか――翻訳喜劇のさまざまな戦略」(How can one translate kyogen’s comedy into English: Various strategies for translating comedy)
Jonah Salz
芸術・メディアのカルチュラルスタディーズ      2009
“Tradition meets Technohlogy: Integrating Japanese Noh & New Technology in Shakespeare’s Macbeth”
Jonah Salz, Asako Soga, Masahito Shiba
BST (Body, Science, and Technology)   9(1)    2010
“Tied to a Slapstick: Kyogen’s Strangely Familiar Physical Comedy.”  
Ryukoku University Intercultural Studies   (12) 57-70   2008   [Refereed]
“Inter-medial experiment in noh-kyogen-projections in A Spider’s Thread.”
Salz, Soga, Shiba
Intercultural Studies (Ryukoku University)   (15) 37-52   2011   [Refereed]

Books etc

A History of Japanese Theatre
Salz Jonah (Part:Editor)
Cambridge University PRess   Jul 2016   
Japanese Theatre, Intercultural Theatre
Salz Jonah (Part:Contributor, Routledge Handbook of Asian THeatre)
Routledge   Jan 2016   
Encyclopedia of Modern Drama “Noh-kyogen,” “Otojirô Kawakami,” “Masakazu Yamazaki”
Gabrielle Cody, ed. (Part:Joint Work)
Columbia University Press   2007   
“Kyogen,” “Okura school,” “Izumi school,” “Properties,” “Mibu kyogen,” Encyclopedia of Asian Drama
Leiter, Samuel L., ed. (Part:Joint Work)
Greenwood   2006   
“Marriage Quarrel Themes in New Kyogen as Metaphor for Post-War Japan” Inexorable Modernity: Japan's Grappling with Modernity in the Arts
Nara, Hiroshi, ed. (Part:Joint Work)
Lexington   2007   

Conference Activities & Talks

"Dangling threads: directing a multi-media minimalist noh play"
Digital Humanities, Ritsumeikan   2011   


A Spider's Thread
Artistic Activity   2010
A Spider's Thread
Artistic Activity   2010
Traditional Theatre Training
Artistic Activity   1984
Noho Theatre Group, Artistic Director
Artistic Activity   1981

Research Grants & Projects

noh kyogen intercultural theatre
intercultural theatre
translation, training, intercultural theatre, kyogen, noh, Beckett
I am interested in exploring how translation occurs in performance situations: subtitles, projections, etc... for traditional arts