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Touchstone, Moravian present Japanese performance artist

Published April 04. 2019 01:08PM

Touchstone Theatre and Moravian College partner together to host acclaimed Japanese performance artist Keiin Yoshimura in her U.S. premiere.

Her two-week residency begins on Moravian College’s campus as part of their yearlong focus on War and Peacebuilding, followed by four performances of her solo work, Sakura, at Touchstone’s home theatre at 321 E. Fourth St. in Southside Bethlehem.

Touchstone Theatre artistic director Jp Jordan and Touchstone ensemble member and Moravian College associate professor/director of theatre Christopher Shorr met Yoshimura in 2014 at Festival Laboratorio Interculturale Di Pratiche Teatrali, an international theatre festival in Italy.

“Getting to know Keiin has opened my eyes to a whole new world of theatrical performance,” Jordan recalls. “She is a true artist, one that honors the rich history of her training, while forging new paths to keep that work fresh and relevant.”

Yoshimura is a master of Kamigata-mai, which is a 16th century “chamber-performance” style of dance/movement similar to Noh, Kyogen and Kabuki, but more subdued and— unlike the traditionally all-male Noh, Kyogen and Kabuki forms — Kamigata-mai is performed by women. Her solo piece combines Kamigata-mai with elements of these other Japanese forms.

The performance is a compelling mash-up of classical and modern approaches that addresses the meaninglessness of mass destruction and war.

Seventy years after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Sakura presents a requiem for the fallen through poetry, video projections, music, traditional Japanese artwork, and contemporary movement and dance. The audience’s instructions at the close of Sakura illuminate the mission of the piece.

The audience is asked to refrain from clapping and instead close their eyes and, in silence and stillness, pray for Universal Peace. Once the house lights return, patrons are encouraged to open their eyes and upon exiting the theater keep a petal of Sakura, which means cherry blossom, close to their heart.

Sakura plays April 11 through April 13 at 8 p.m. and April 14 at 2 p.m. On Thursdays, Touchstone offers a pay-what-you-will ticket option at the door, as available, allowing walk-up patrons to name their own ticket price. Advance tickets may be purchased at 610-867-1689 or online at www.touchstone.org.

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