Sukurooji and Chisana Tomo BRING Kurisumasu Kyaroru “A NOH CHRISTMAS CAROL” BACK TO T.O.Y.
小さなティム and スクロージ MAKE THIS ONE OF THE
BEST クリスマスキャロル OF THE SEASON
As you enter the Artuad art center under Z Space, you are taken to Meiji-era Japan, in Theatre of Yungen’s moody production of A NOH CHRISTMAS CAROL. Due to popular demand, Theatre of Yugen brought back its critically acclaimed work. Directed by TOY artistic director Nick Ishimaru, he has cast five talented artist to interpret his take of a Japanese Scrooge. A NOH CHRISTMAS is now on stage at TOY NOHspace black box stage on Mariposa street only through December 30th.
Director Ishimaru grew up a Japanese hapa in Colorado and a fourth generation American. He found a connection in studying traditional Japanese art. He didn’t always feel that traditional arts as a wildly popular or relevant. “But we have to teach which parts of a show are relevant to us. Even though a story may be 700 years old, it still can be just as relevant to our modern lives” says Ishimaru. He continued “We see A Christmas Carol every year, it has become the go-to theatrical production of the (Holiday) season. We always know what to expect, it is a perfect story for transposition into noh because this call for the alleviation of suffering through community parallels the spirit of noh utilizing Yugen's signature Japanese theatre styles and vast stock of traditional costumes, we present a visual and musical spectacle that gives new life to this treasured Christmas story - I am honored (for fans who have) chosen to spend their holiday season with T.O.Y.”
Land owner and boss Ebezo Sukurooji played by the white faced terrific Simone Bloch who is visited by his dead business partner Jakubei Mashima played by the accomplished Steven Flores, who is in full-body white makeup, covered in chains. Later the classic Dickens ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come created by the clever Rachael Richman each have their own mysterious entrances. The marvelous Zoe Chien plays all the men including Scrooge’s clerk. The stunning Mikah Kavita plays the women including the renter that Scrooge will evict.
Ishimaru direction, brings back an ancient art spanning over 700 years. A NOH CHRISTMAS CAROL is new ancient re telling of the Charles Dickens story but with a Japanese twist. The time frame keeps with the original story, but is set during the Meiji era in Japan. The show was adapted by founding Theatre of Yugen artistic director, Yuriko Doi, and Cianna Stewart and originally produced in 1993. It incorporates Noh and Kyogen, and the Kabuki dance drama with the ancient dance. The cast is keen in the perfect timing of Kabuki dance and movement. The play has been revived for the current season. The sold out opening night audience was engaged in the story and the classic iconic characters in non traditional storytelling. Noh generally tells traditional stories involving supernatural characters so CHRISTMAS CAROL is a perfect match for this.
The sparse elegant set by designer Josh McDermott lets the actors easily move and glide from scene to scene under a full moon arch. Liz Brent’s historical costumes are eye candy, including the present day ghost’s gold kimono and garland crown. The “Ghost of the Future” wears a huge colorful head dress that flows to the ground like sticky tree branches.
Lighting designer Ella Cooley creates the magic needed to moody different look for the three ghost impressive entrances. The puppet created for Tiny Tim is a show stopper and is beautifully choreographed by Steven Flores.
The audience is treated to the importance of family, forgiveness and redemption in this 90 minute one act staging. McDermott’s set is open and sprinkled with snow with a full Moon perfect for the ghosts to enter. The most impressive is Flores as Jacob, in his full white body makeup and intense body language and wonderfully creepy movement staged by Director Ishimaru.
Bloch as the iconic Sukurooji breaks through her white face to create a more vulnerable Scrooge - who glides across the TOY stage. The constant music by Ella Cooley is very mellow and authentic. I was impressed how simple but powerful - the sound track lifts this tale to a magical feel. A NOH CHRISTMAS CAROL is a fresh take on this classic Holiday tale. Sukurooji, as in any Christmas Carol production, wishes the audience a “Merry Christmas to all, and a happy new year to all the world,” Along with all the other Scrooges roaming Bay Area stages this season this Sukurooji is the one to see.
Theatre of Yugen Presents
A Noh Christmas Carol
Adapted by Yuriko Doi and Cianna Stewart
Directed by Nick Ishimaru
Must close Dec. 30
Running time: 90 minutes
no intermission, no late seating
2840 Mariposa St., S.F.
call (415) 621-0507 or visit www.theatreofyugen.org
photos by Shannon Davis
Simone Bloch as Ebezo Sukurooji, Rachael Richman as the Christmas Ghosts, Mikah Kavita as the Women, Zoe Chienas the Men, and Steven Flores as Jakube Mashima
Directed by Nick Ishimaru; Costumes by Liz Brent; Sets by Josh McDermott; Music by Zhoushu Ziporyn; Sound by Ella Cooley
ABOUT THEATRE OF YUGEN
Founded in 1978 by Yuriko Doi, and is dedicated to the preservation of traditional Japanese theatre forms of Kyogen and Noh, as well as continuing to innovate and intertwine tradition with new forms and approaches, contributing to the conversation around modern theatre.