The Greeks had their tragedies. The Romans a love for gore. The Japanese have Noh.
Well not quite as old as the ancient world, Noh’s classical drama has been performed continuously since the 13th Century. Like kabuki in it’s earliest inceptions, men play both male and female roles. Masks are a big part of the performance that can last all day.
If you went to a traditional Noh in the past, you would see five plays mingled with short, humorous courses to cleanse the palate. Today, Noh is performed in two plays and a humor set, a kyogen, set in between.
The plays are traditional and codified by the family foundation, new plays occasionally celebrate history and welcome innovation. There have also been fusion Noh blending with other art forms like Banruku, puppet theatre.
One cool tradition is that Noh players rehearse only once as an ensemble, which embodies the saying, Sen no Rikyu, “one chance, one meeting.”