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The Faces of Japanese Performing Arts

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Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology

102 Kroeber Hall

Berkeley, CA 94720

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Nick Ishimaru will present a lecture on the history of Japanese performing arts, focusing on the types of masks and facial expressions used in these dramatic forms. He will be bringing with him several masks, as well as demonstrating how to wear them and performing selected excerpts of plays to show off how they would be used in performance.

About the speaker -

Nick Ishimaru received a BA in Performing Arts from Colorado State University (2005), where he directed a kabuki adaptation of Macbeth, and a Masters in Drama from San Francisco State University, (2009). His work explores a combination of Western and traditional Asian performance techniques for original creations, along with work in conventional musical theatre and Shakespeare. Ishimaru has trained in noh and kyōgen with Theatre of Yugen for over seven years, and has studied kabuki, jingju (Beijing Opera), and nihon buyo (traditional Japanese dance) at the University of Hawaii. He has presented his work at the Association for Asian Performance international conference, and taught master classes on noh and kyōgen at both the high school and collegiate level.

In October 2016, he opened his debut as Theatre of Yugen’s Artistic Director, The Red Demon by Noda Hideki and in December 2017 he revived Yugen's long standing tradition, A Noh Christmas Carol. Previous directing work includes It Ain’t Me by Claire Rice (original), Land of Infants by Meghan O’Patry (original), and Kaguya (original adaptation). Other recent production work includes A Minor Cycle by Greg Giovanni (original; actor and fight choreographer), This Lingering Life by Chiori Miyagawa (original; actor), and several performances of the traditional repertoire with Theatre of Yugen.

Ishimaru’s long standing with Theatre of Yugen is critical to sorting and properly categorizing the large inventory of materials from the company’s long history. His intimate understanding of the traditional arts on both an academic and artistic level makes his participation in this project critical.

About Theatre of Yugen -

Founded in 1978, Theatre of Yugen creates intercultural performances rooted in the aesthetic “yugen” (derived from the Japanese characters “yu,” meaning “deep, quiet, or other-worldly,” and “gen,” meaning “subtle, profound, or obscured”) and envisions a world where people connect heart to heart, without boundaries, by experiencing the beauty expressed therein. With a foundation in Japanese noh drama and kyogen satire—the world’s oldest living style of theatre (over 600 years old)—Yugen creates works of world theatre by crafting original material and exploring dramatic and literary classics.

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Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology

102 Kroeber Hall

Berkeley, CA 94720

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