Visionary theatre artist Ping Chong returns to the world of Japanese ghost stories in Obon: Tales of Rain and Moonlight, premiering April 8-May 18 at Seattle Repertory Theatre. Chong both wrote and directs Obon, opening April 15.
Chong's first foray into Lafcadio Hearn's 19th Century book of traditional Japanese spirit tales was Kwaidan, a successful puppet piece that toured the United States, England and Japan. Using the same mix of shadows and light, live action, music and puppetry, Chong returns to the ghosts' world of passion, desire and revenge.
Chong's many works include avant-garde studies of Japan (Deshima, 1993), China (Chinoiserie, 1995), Vietnam (After Sorrow, 1997) and Korea (Pojagi, 2000). He has earned two Obies, a National Institute for Music Theatre Award and two "Bessie" Awards for Sustained Creative Achievement and Outstanding Creative Achievement.
Jodi Eichelberger, Aya T. Kanai, Jennifer Kato, Fred C. Riley III and Sam Wood perform Obon. Chong, Ester Chae, Brian Hallas, Kato, Michael Rohd, Jeffery Rose, Louise Smith and Chin Valdez provide the extra voice-over work.
Mitsuru Ishii is the art director and production designer with Atsushi Yamato as the puppet designer and Riley III as the puppet choreographer. Also designing are Randy Ward (lighting), David Meschter (sound), Jan Hartley (projections) and Guy Klucevsek (original music). Tickets are $44-$15. Seattle Repertory Theatre is located in the Seattle Center at the corner of Second Avenue and Mercer Street. For reservations, call (206) 443-2222. Seattle Repertory Theatre is on the web at http://www.seattlerep.org.
— By Christine Ehren