Noh Space Like Home

Theater of Yugen has spent its last 20 years helping Californians bone up on 600 years of Japanese theater; thanks to their efforts, more of us now know that noh theater is the serious masked drama, while kyogen is the comedy performed between the tragedies, and butoh is the slow, deliberate dance form characterized by startling stillness and emotional intensity. With the New Tsunami/Fusion Fest, Yugen celebrates its 20th experimental year in presenting Japanese performance and Western performance infused by Eastern technique. The 11-day festival, held at Yugen's Noh Space and Center for the Arts, opens with the traditional kyogen comedy The Melon Thief, performed in English, along with natural sound artist Masaaki Takano playing music on "found" instruments like seashells and stones and dancer/storyteller Shizumi's The Waltz With the Moon, which fuses music and dance with sign language and ancient poetry. Festival highlights also include Random Acts, storyteller Brenda Wong Aoki's tale of urban neighbors who exorcise a demon with random acts of kindness (8 p.m. Friday at Center for the Arts); Balinese shadow puppet play Wayang Bali and butoh dancer Koichi Tamano in Carpet of the Sea (7 p.m. Sunday at Center for the Arts); Sha Sha Higby's elaborate sculptural costuming and dance in Dust and Stone (8 p.m. Thursday, May 7, at Noh Space); and Theater of Yugen's double-header, the kyogen comedy Sumo Wrestling With Mosquito and W.B. Yeats' morality play Purgatory, performed in English and staged in noh style (8 p.m. Saturday, May 9, at Noh Space). The gala reception and opening performance begins Thursday at 8 p.m. at Theater of Yugen's Noh Space, 2840 Mariposa (at Bryant), S.F. Admission is $13-31; call 621-7797. Center for the Arts is located at 701 Mission (at Third Street), S.F. For tickets to events at this venue, call 978-ARTS. The New Tsunami/Fusion Fest continues through May 10. (

 
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