International Cultural Productions (ICP) presents the American premiere of the Japanese multi generational children's hit,Boonah, Come Down Sept. 29 - Oct. 5 at the Danny Kaye Playhouse.
Performed by the Seinenza Theatre Company, the philosophical Buddhist fable is adapted by Tsutomu Mizukami from his 1972 "Boonah the Tree Climbing Frog." Boonah was translated into an animated version that was presented at the United Nations, and it has toured throughout China and Russia since its Japanese premiere in 1978, but the show has never played in New York.
Raised at the Temple of Gan (geese), playwright Mizukami won the prestigious Naoki Prize at the age of 40. A philosophical Buddhist fable, Boonah was intended to convey the message of achieving simplicity in life, and that people should combat the "race towards materialism." Mizukami uses characters such as frogs, rats, birds and snakes to make the point that "all people should help each other regardless of their place in the food chain."
In this ideal children's piece, Mizukami presents his characters -- frogs, rats, birds, snakes -- in a former temple grounds using brightly colored masks and real-people clothes in a style that conjures, and is said to predate, that of acclaimed director and puppeteer Julie Taymor.
Boonah is directed by Kanichiro Suzuki. The cast consists of 15 members from the Seinenza Theatre company, one of Japan's most active contemporary theatre groups. Featured in multiple roles are Hitoshi Oya as Boonah, Yuko Haraguchi, Hiromi Inaba, Hiroshi Iwasaki, Ippei Kanie, Yoko Koyanagi, Hiroshi Nagahata, Yoshinobu Ota, Shino Oyamada, Yushi Sato, Wataru Takase, Mihoko Tsuchiya, Hiroko Uchiyama and Fumiya Yazaki. The play will be performed in Japanese, with a simultaneous translation through infrared headsets. The creative staff includes Ueda Junko (set design), Nakagawa Ryuichi (lighting design), and Ito Sachiko (costume design). The translation was done by David W. Griffith, Tanaka Keishi and Hori Mariko. Tickets are $40, and $15 for students. There are no tickets available for the special sold-out performance scheduled for Oct. 1. The Danny Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College is located on East 68 Street between Park and Lexington Avenues. For information, call the box office at (212) 772-4448.
-- By Murdoch McBride
and Daniel Fischer