CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
Children's Theatre Company performs 'Wondrous Tales of Old Japan'
Oct. 6-9 in Hancher
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Children's Theatre Company, America's leading
producer of theater for young audiences and families, will present "Wondrous
Tales of Old Japan" at 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, Oct. 6-9, in
the Loft of the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium. The Loft is an intimate
setting in which the audience is seated on the Hancher stage. The 7 p.m.
curtain time was arranged to accommodate families with young children.
"Wondrous Tales of Old Japan" dramatizes three folktales in
the larger-than-life style of Kabuki, the highly stylized musical theater
spectacle whose history can be traced back for centuries. Kabuki uses exaggerated,
almost cartoon-like speech and movement; elaborate costumes, make-up and
masks; and a percussive musical accompaniment that provides sound effects,
punctuates the action and heightens moments of particular drama or comedy.
The centerpiece of the trilogy is "The Adventures of Momotaro,
the Peach Boy," which follows the adventures of a magical boy and
his animal companions.
To create "Wondrous Tales of Old Japan," the artists of the
Children's Theatre Company collaborated with Kabuki artist David Furumoto
and master taiko drummer Kenny Endo, both of whom have been associated
with the National Kabuki Theatre in Tokyo.
Furumoto is considered the leading American authority on Kabuki. A native
of Hawaii, he works both as an actor and as a professor of drama specializing
in Asian theater.
Endo began his training in western drums but then discovered taiko,
the Japanese drum once used for village communication and now used in festivals
and rituals. Endo was the first foreigner to earn a master's degree in
the art of classical Japanese drumming, which has been made popular world-wide
by the drumming ensemble Kodo.
In addition to presenting the evening performances in Hancher, the Children's
Theatre Company will be in residence in the Iowa City schools, working
with all the sixth-grade and combined fifth/sixth-grade classes.
Hancher Director Wally Chappell, whose career includes research in Japanese
theater and directing a youth theater, presented a Kabuki workshop to help
the teachers prepare for the residency. Graduate-student artists from the
UI Arts Share program will also present workshops for the elementary-school
students on the role of folktales in cultures.
The school groups will attend matinee performances of "Wondrous
Tales of Old Japan," which will be followed by question-and-answer
sessions with the artists.
The project was developed with the Iowa City Schools as part of the
sixth-grade focus on the study of ancient cultures.
The Children's Theatre Company, which is headquartered in the Twin Cities,
has been called "the flagship of North American children's theater."
During three decades of performances and educational activities, the company
has developed an international reputation for staging innovative original
works and spirited adaptations of the best in children's literature.
The company's tours have included regular stops at Hancher Auditorium,
performing works including "Strega Nona," "Animal Fables
from Aesop," "Two African Tales," "The Adventures of
Pippi Longstockings" and "Raggedy Ann and Andy."
Hames Mobile Homes is the corporate sponsor of the public performances
of "Wondrous Tales of Old Japan," through the UI Foundation.
The Children's Theatre Company residency is supported by the Heartland
Tickets are $20 ($16 for UI students and senior citizens, and $10 for
audience members 17 and younger) from the Hancher box office. All tickets
have been sold for the Friday, Oct. 9 performance. Tickets remain available
for the other three performances.
Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.
to 3 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling
area or outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and
western Illinois is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders
may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may
charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff
may select the option of payroll deduction.
People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services
should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office
personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair
access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is
equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.
For information on UI arts events, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/~uiowacr/
on the World Wide Web.