After completing a critically acclaimed run at New York's La MaMa Annex, Ping Chong & Company bring Kwaidan, a piece of puppet theatre based on three Japanese ghost stories translated at the turn of the century by American journalist Lafcadio Hearn, to Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art for a limited engagement Oct. 3 and 4.
The first piece, "The Story of Jikininki," tells of a selfish priest, who as punishment, returns to life as a flesh-eating goblin. "The Story of Mimi Nashi-Hoichi" is the tale of a blind boy, Hoichi (played by actor David Ige), who is tormented by the spirits of Heiki warriors, embodied as crabs with human faces. The final story belongs to O-Tei, a woman who promises her fiance that she will return him after she dies. She finally does, but in the person of a fast food counter girl who can't remember who she was in her past life.
Kwaidan marks the first full-scale puppet show for Ping Chong, who has used puppets in such past pieces as Fear and Loathing in Gotham, Nuit Blanche and Snow (which was based on "Uki Onna," another Japanese spirit tale).
Jon Ludwig serves as puppetry coordinator with Mitsuru Ishii providing both art direction and production design. Other design team members include David Meschter (sound), Liz Lee (lighting), and Jan Hartley (projections).
The puppeteers are Pamela O'Connor, Lee Randall, Fred C. Riley III and Don Smith. Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art is located on 220 East Chicago Avenue, for tickets ($20) or more information call (312) 397-4010.