Berkeley, CA – March 2018 – This April 20-29, the UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) presents the Dream of Kitamura – a mythic, ghostly tale based on a haunting image that appeared to esteemed playwright and TDPS Professor Philip Kan Gotanda in a dream. Gotanda will direct this darkly evocative and movement-driven play in collaboration with award-winning choreographer Katie Faulkner. The show opens Friday, April 20, 2018 and continues through Sunday, April 29, 2018 in the Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley campus. Tickets are $13 – $20 and can be purchased online through the TDPS Box Office at http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/dream/ or at the door.
The Dream of Kitamura is a mystery-shrouded hallucination that begins when Lord Rosanjin dreams that the demon Kitamura is coming to kill him. His horror is so profound that he hires two bodyguards to defend him against his own delusion. But are they who they appear to be? And what of the icy, repressed Lady Zuma, and his petulant daughter Otsu? Something rots in the House of Rosanjin as great love kills great love.
One of America’s leading playwrights, Philip Kan Gotanda is best known for plays that focus on the Asian American experience, such as The Wash, The Ballad of Yachiyo and Yankee Dawg You Die. This particular play stemmed, not from his own life experiences, but from a dream: “I dreamt the central image,” he explains, “and that dream was very potent. The image was my father as an aging lord, in an ornate, gothic throne. I was to his left, and a composite of my brothers was to his right. My father was pointing into the darkness, crying ‘KITAMURA. KITAMURA.’ We pulled out our swords to protect him. I woke up and my sense was that my father was dreaming of death coming for him. Out of this, I built a murder mystery—a feverish, dream play.” While writing the play, Gotanda sought to trust his source, the dream, by allowing his unconscious to drive the process. When images surfaced, he accepted the ideas without judgement and explored how they might form themselves onstage.
Gotanda notes that when he wrote the Dream of Kitamura in 1981, “I was a young artist, I was a young Asian American artist, still inventing a theatrical sense of what that would mean for the stage.” The dream, the unconscious fused with the conscious struggle to find home in America, provided a reservoir of source material: Butoh, The Three Stooges, martial arts movies, Japanese fashion mash-up, Spaghetti Westerns and Gagaku – ceremonial Japanese court music.
Fittingly, and perhaps inevitably, the Dream of Kitamura has a non-linear structure, with a narrative that is presented through both text and ritualized movement. In TDPS’s production, Katie Faulkner’s choreography is integral to the story telling. “I’ve always been intrigued by Katie’s pieces at TDPS, letting her know how much I’ve enjoyed them,” says Gotanda. “Now we’re working closely together on Kitamura, which has a highly visual movement vocabulary. The moving pictures without text are just as important as the text-driven scenes, telling a story that is immersive and inhabiting a dreamscape.”
An early work by Gotanda, the Dream of Kitamura is more experimental than most of his canon, and had its first production at San Francisco’s Asian American Theater Company in 1981, directed by David Henry Hwang. It pushed the boundaries of what defined Asian American theater, as realism held sway as the correct form of telling “community” stories. The play was further developed at East West Players, directed by Mako, followed by a collaboration at New York’s Theater of the Open Eye with Joseph Campbell, Isamu Noguchi, and Jean Erdman, which toured it around the Hawaiian Islands and the West Coast.
Gotanda is excited to be revisiting the Dream of Kitamura again after many years away from the play. For the TDPS production, he is working with a culturally and racially diverse student cast – Korean, Native, Black-South Asian, Irish, Latinx, White, Guatemalan, Filipino, Costa Rican – a change from previous productions where the cast was exclusively Asian. Gotanda sees this production as a strong learning opportunity for the mixed group of actors—and for himself. “Although it is the same script, my approach now is different,” Gotanda shares. “How I engage the world now is quite different. How I think about American Theater is different, in particular as seen through the practice of teaching at the University. the Dream of Kitamura at TDPS is a new play.”
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The Dream of Kitamura opens Friday, April 20, 2018 and continues through Sunday, April 29, 2018 at Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley campus. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8pm, and Sunday at 2pm. Tickets for students, seniors, and UC Berkeley Faculty & staff are $13 online in advance and $15 at the door; General admission tickets are $18 online in advance and $20 at the door; Tickets are on sale through the TDPS Box Office at http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/dream/ or at the door.
The Dream of Kitamura is written and directed by Philip Kan Gotanda, in collaboration with choreographer Katie Faulkner; costume design by Christine Crook under the direction of Wendy Sparks-Rehl; and lighting design by Jack Carpenter. The cast includes: Melissa Chapman, Erica Chung, Katia Coate, Amainary Contreras, Hope Fellows, John Hildenbrand, Eleanor O’Malley, Ivan Oyarzabal, Paris Shockley, and Drew Woodson.
The Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies teaches performance as a mode of critical inquiry, creative expression and public engagement. Through performance training and research, we create liberal arts graduates with expanded analytical, technical and imaginative capacities. As a public institution, we make diversity and inclusion a key part of our teaching, art making and public programming.
About Philip Kan Gotanda
Over the last three decades, playwright Philip Kan Gotanda has been a major influence in the broadening of our definition of theater in America. Through his plays and advocacy, he has been instrumental in bringing stories of Asians in the United States to mainstream American theater as well as to Europe and Asia. Mr. Gotanda holds a law degree from Hastings College of Law and studied pottery in Japan with the late Hiroshi Seto. Mr. Gotanda is a respected independent filmmaker; his film Life Tastes Good was presented at the Sundance Film Festival. Mr. Gotanda, alongside Michael Sasaki, had a chinglish version of “My Boyfriend’s Back,” with Joan Chen singing lead, on the Hong Kong pop charts before it was banned. Mr. Gotanda is the recipient of a Guggenheim as well as other honors and awards. He resides at Gotanda Art Plant in the Berkeley Hills with his writer-producer wife, Diane Takei, and their famously ill-behaved dog, Toulouse.
About Katie Faulkner
Katie Faulkner is a dancer, choreographer, teaching artist, and founder of little seismic dance company. Since receiving her MFA in Dance from Mills College in 2002, she has performed the works of Bill T. Jones, Stephen Petronio, Randee Paufve, Victoria Marks, Susan Rethorst, Alex Ketley and Ann Carlson. She has worked with several of these choreographers as a dancer with AXIS Dance Company, with whom she performed both locally and nationally from 2003-2007. She has been an active educator around the country and is currently on faculty at the University of San Francisco, UC Berkeley, and ODC.
Since founding little seismic, Faulkner has received support in the form of numerous commissions, residencies, and awards. She was an artist-in-residence at ODC Theater from 2009-2011 and has also been in residence at the Marin Headlands Center for the Arts, the Djerassi Resident Artist Program, the Rauschenberg Residency, and the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography. She has received several Isadora Duncan Dance Awards and nominations, the top prize for her work in the Joyce Theater A.W.A.R.D. Show!/San Francisco competition, and the SF Bay Guardian GOLDIE Award for dance. In 2015, she received her certification in Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis from the Integrated Movement Studies program. She was recently invited to be a 2017-2018 Truth Fellow with the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
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For Calendar Editors
the Dream of Kitamura
Lord Rosanjin dreams that the ferocious demon Kitamura is coming to kill him in this mythic, ghostly tale based on a haunting dream that acclaimed playwright Philip Kan Gotanda translated to the stage. This darkly evocative and movement-driven play is directed by Gotanda in collaboration with choreographer Katie Faulkner.
April 20 -29, 2018
UC Berkeley Dept. of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies
Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley Campus, Berkeley, CA
Performances: Fri-Sat 8 PM, Sun 2 PM
Pricing: Prices range from $13-20.
Tickets: Visit tdps.berkeley.edu for more information and to purchase tickets.