With a main character who can't hear, see, or speak, who must emote to the back seats without stumbling into a chair or into some slapstick, staging Helen Keller can be hazardous, if not outright comedic. That won't happen at this performance. The play is directed by Gogh Nakajima, a young talent who is coming off Oedipus, five Shakespeare productions, and a Tennessee Williams one-act. But it isnt only his handling of the classics that puts us in good hands, but also his approach: Nakajima, who is from Japan, creates work that fuses Eastern and Western theater styles, and he's come abroad to work with our local Noh theater company, Theatre of Yugen, to create a piece thats more about movement, emotion, and poetic storytelling than plot-driven miracle working. Nakajima has chosen an apt star: Julie Brown, also from Japan, who came to the U.S. to sharpen her skills after working with him in Japan (she studies under Theatre of Yugen, and played Cunegonde in last springs production Candide, or Optimism). As Keller learned through the sense of touch, her story is incredibly suited to Noh and its focus on ritual movement Nakajimas Keller is a chance for audiences to see this uniquely American figure in a new light.
Sept. 4-6, 2009