Another Yuriko Doi Fusion: Mystical Abyss

5 Aug

Theatre of Yugen in collaboration with the U.S./Japan Cultural Trade Network and the San Francisco International Arts Festival will present five performances of Mystical Abyss at ODC Theatre in San Francisco September 17-30 with tickets ranging in price, depending on date, from $17 to $45.  The event will help to celebrate SFIAF’s Tenth Anniversary.

Director Yuriko Doi has collaborated with playwright John O’Keefe ,  choreographers Shiro Nomura from Japan and Jesus Jacob Cortes from Mexico. Renta Kouichi is responsible for the set design, Risa Lenore Latimore Dye,  costume design,  Stephen Siegel, lighting design, Frederick Boulay technical direction and production manager.  Hideta Kitazawa serves as the mask designer and carver while Taketo Kobayashi and  Koya Takahashi are responsible for animation.

Several performers are also responsible for music: Kenny Perkins, Yoshio Ueno and Narumi Takiz, the latter two representing traditional Noh music.  Ueno has been designated as an Intangible Cultural Asset.

Cortes from Mexico also will perform along with Masashi Nomura, Janelle Ayon, Cuauhtemoc Peranda, Lluis Valls, Roger Perkins, and Jubilith Moore,  assistant director for Yuriko Doi and artistic director of Theatre of Yugen.

Personally, I find this information staggering, but  not surprising, having seen how Yuriko Doi reached out to produce Blood Wedding, using La Tania in a male role with a Kabuki style female artist placing the conflict in a Spanish land grant estate of early California.; Doi later staged Crazy Horse in San Francisco’s Japanese Peace Plaza.

Doi goes for the connective tissue between cultures, despite apparent surface differences.  Mystical Abyss is no exception.  The work explores the creation myths of Japan and Iroquois Indians.  In  Japan myth, Izanami dies in childbirth after creating the Japanese islands and the Japanese deities with spouse Izanagi. The Iroquois believed Sky Woman was hurled into an abyss by her husband; chaos and commotion for both traditions. Amaterasu had to be lured out of her retreat through art.  Sky Woman’s fall was curbed by animals and came to rest on a turtle creating the North American Continent.

The press release quoted Yuriko Doi: “I have spent my life building bridges across false divides; and, as a mother who hoped for a better world for her children, I see Mystical Abyss as a metaphor for our need to be reborn, to go back to the beginning and move forward on a path of peace and respect for our world and each other.”

The press release continues her comments which I am certain will be included in the program. I want to urge lovers of great theatrical art to know about this formidable event.  Also performing one night, September 29, concurrently,  will be Pandit Birju Maharaj at the Palace of Fine Arts, brought again by his disciple  Anuradha Nag who directs the Tarangini School of Kathak.  Zakir Hussein will support Maharaj on tabla.  Such a confluence of  cultures in the area – Japan, Native America, Mexico, North India – promises an extraordinary privilege in theatre for San Francisco.


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