The one-woman show, Yaya, written by Japanese playwright Seichi Yashiro for his daughter, Tomoko Mariya, is being presented this week in New York. Played in both Japanese and English versions, with an intermission between the shows, Yaya runs at St. Clement's Sanctuary Theatre, Oct. 1-4.
Yaya is the story of the former girlfriend of Ryokan, the famous Zen priest and poet of the 19th century. It focuses on Yaya's life (age spanning from 16 72) after she left Ryokan, and, at the same time, gives a glimpse into Ryokan's life. Ryokan's voice is featured as a part of this one-woman show which Yashiro, a Christian writer, based on the story of Mary Magdalene. Yaya seeks a meeting point between Zen and Christianity.
The English version will be performed by Natasha Welch (The Piano Lesson) and explore connections between Zen and the Africian American culture.
Yaya premiered in Japan in 1992 and won Mariya a "Kinokuniya Theatre Award" for her performance. The limited engagement will be a tribute to Yashiro, who recently passed away.
Seichi Yashiro's Yaya, starring Tomoko Mariya, plays at St. Clement's Sanctuary Theatre, Oct. 1-4. For tickets ($30) or more information call Ticket Central (212) 279-4200. -- By Sean McGrath