Zeami Motokiyo (zā´ä´mē mō´tō´kē´yō) or Kanze Motokiyo, c.1363–c.1443, Japanese actor, playwright, and drama theorist. Son of the itinerant actor Kanami, at the age of eleven Zeami attracted the attention of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, who became his first major patron. Later Zeami's fortunes fluctuated with changing political circumstances; at the age of seventy, he was banished to a remote island for two years. As playwright, Zeami wrote works of astonishing poetic resonance, incorporating myth, legend, and literary allusion into densely interwoven imagery. As drama critic, Zeami produced both practical instruction for actors and highly theoretical work which elevates the art of the No theater to the level of court poetry and linked verse.
See studies by T. B. Hare (1986) and M. J. Smethurst (1989).