WORLD PREMIERE! In 1956, a giant kaiju (monster) destroys Tokyo and sends seismic waves of fear, anger and ignorance through generations. Facts are questioned, history is alternatively written and modern politics is set against primal religion in this ferociously civilized cautionary tale of two nations coping with their own damaged legacies. Can humanity reckon with the monsters that rise against us, the ones that live within us all?
Performing on the Broadwater Mainstage
(Entrance at 1076 Lillian Way)
Friday, April 6: DONATE WHAT YOU CAN. It's "Pay What You Can" with a twist! Half of all proceeds for this performance will be donated to Nature and Culture International, whose mission is to protect biologically diverse ecosystems in concert with local people in Latin America. Purchase tickets now!
Eddie Goines as Billy Childers / Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Stasha Surdyke as Nancy Dickerson
David Wilcox as William F. Buckley, Jr.
Libby Baker as Dr. Joyce Brothers
Tony DeCarlo as Mason Burr
Amir Levi as Truman Capote
Paul Parducci as Norman Mailer / Curtis LeMay
Reuben Uy as George Serizawa / Yukio Mishima
Victor S Chi as Gojira
Adam Burch as Lee Oswald / Pilot
Corinne Chooey as Emiko Ogata
Kazumi Zatkin as Voice of Tokyo Emergency Announcer
as Billy Childers /
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Carrie Keranen as Nancy Dickerson
Corey Klemow as William F. Buckley, Jr.
Glenda Suggs as Dr. Joyce Brothers
Pete Caslavka as Mason Burr
Travis York as Truman Capote
Marz Richards as Norman Mailer / Curtis LeMay
Gavin Lee as George Serizawa / Yukio Mishima
Sean Liang as Gojira
Isaac Deakyne as Lee Oswald / Pilot
Hennie Hendrawati as Emiko Ogata
Produced for Sacred Fools by Brian W. Wallis
Stage Manager - Suze Campagna
Assistant Director / Prop Design - Bo Powell
Composer - Michael Teoli
Set Design - Joe Jordan
Lighting Design - Matt Richter
Costume Design - Jennifer Christina DeRosa
Sound Design - Jaime Robledo
Video Editing / Programming - Allison Faith Sulock
Video Graphics - Curt Bonnem
Video Animation - Emily Bolka
Fight Director - Mike Mahaffey
Associate Producer - K.J. Middlebrooks
Movement Consultant - Joe Fria
Dramaturge - Tim Kopacz
Assistant Stage Managers - Harim Sanchez & Mark Russell
Show Photography - Jessica Sherman Photography
Graphic Design (Key Art) - Katelyn Schiller
- Sacred Fools Company Member
Sacred Fools is hardly the first to have recognized the movie monster as an avatar for the real-life anxieties that boil beneath the surface of our collective imagination. But it may come as some surprise to students of creature horror to learn that the mother of all coping responses to what Susan Sontag once called the "unassimilable terrors that infect [our] consciousness" is 1956's Godzilla, King of the Monsters!
Or so insists Akuma-shin, Kenley Smith's outlandishly clever if sometimes wincingly on-the-nose Godzilla homage, now getting its world premiere on the Fools' Broadwater Main Stage. Why the Americanization of Ishiro Honda's 1954 kaiju classic, Gojira, should be held up as a primary palimpsest for the rampaging horrors of post-industrial capitalism is just one of the mysteries driving a play that ricochets between parodic mockumentary, whimsical alternative history, allusive movie-geek trivia game and moody metaphysical thriller.
And if the slipperiest of those questions is over what kind of beast is Akuma-shin (it literally translates as "demon-god"), that ambiguity provides much of the action's poetic lift, beginning with the cancer-ravaged and mutilated figure of Billy Childers (Eddie Goines), luridly sporting prosthetic hooks where he once had arms. "I saw the monster," he hoarsely croaks in what will be a recurring refrain over the evening by eyewitnesses, who are ultimately able to provide little in the way of clear description or documented proof of the creature's existence. Akuma-shin apparently cannot be photographed and is known only by the apocalyptic devastation that it leaves in its Earth-shaking wake.
The only area of consensus seems to be that in 1956, Tokyo and 2 million of its residents perished in a fiery, radioactive conflagration that has gone down in history as "the incident." But the lack of clear-cut, objective evidence also makes the event a political football that, 20 years later, is still being kicked around by TV pundits on programs like the 1976 PBS special that frames the play. Hosted by Nancy Dickerson (Stasha Surdyke), TV personalities Dr. Joyce Brothers (Libby Baker) and monster denier William F. Buckley Jr. (David Wilcox in an uncanny impersonation) debate Akuma-shim's existence with the paraplegic survivor/radio reporter Mason (Tony DeCarlo) and a trio of celebrity literati promoting their own Akuma-shin books: Truman Capote (Amir Levi), Norman Mailer (Paul Parducci) and Yukio Mishima (Reuben Uy).
Much of the fun - as well as the meaning - comes from the ways in which the script mischievously teases out the alternate trajectories of the celebrated novelists as well as the surprise fates of the beloved 20th-century military and political figures that make brief cameo appearances in the story. For example, Mishima no longer takes his own life after failing to foment a 1970 right-wing putsch (although seppuku is still very much on his mind), and if the monster has elbowed aside the Kennedys, that's a good thing for Lee Harvey Oswald (a convincing Adam Burch) and Mary Jo Kopechne.
But the dramatic fireworks come in the riveting multiple flashbacks of the monster encounters that play out in the wings of designer Joe Jordan's simple, shoji-paneled set. The best feature DeCarlo, Goines and Uy as they confront their own demons during a live broadcast of "the most famous 15 seconds in radio," a scene that somehow visually quotes Honda but torques it with the psychological horror of the unseen. Director Scott Leggett weaves together stylish video projections (by editor Allison Faith Sulock, graphics designer Curt Bonnem and animator Emily Bolka), spectacular lighting effects (by Matt Richter) and searing, high-decibel sound (Jaime Robledo) to theatrically suggest what the production cannot literally show - the monumental, pulse-pounding physical presence of Akuma-shin.
Ⓒ 2018 L.A. Weekly
What if Godzilla really did destroy Tokyo?
A new play that explores an alternate timeline - where a real Godzilla-type monster attacks Japan - will be premiered by Sacred Fools Theater.
"Akuma-Shin" is set in 1976 in an American television talk show where guests grapple with the "seismic waves of fear, anger and ignorance" that the attack has unleashed "through generations."
Filipino American actor Reuben Uy has been cast to play Yukio Mishima - a Japanese author, poet, playwright, actor, film director, and militia leader.
Written by Kenley Smith, the play's characters are composed of real-life personalities such as broadcast journalist Nancy Dickerson (serving as the talk show host), novelist Truman Capote, psychologist Joyce Brothers, and civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., among others.
A statement for the play reads, "facts are questioned and modern politics is set against primal religion in this cautionary tale of two nations coping with their own damaged legacies - can humanity reckon with the monsters that rise against us, the ones that live within us all?"
Uy's recent credits include "Pacific Overtures" for Chromulume Theater, "1984" for Greenway Court Alliance, "Twelfth Night" for Coeurage Theatre, and "La Cage Aux Folles" and "Beijing Spring" for East West Players.
The play will be directed by Scott Leggett.
"Sacred Fools is one of the most critically acclaimed theaters in LA," Uy says.
"It's one of those theaters that actors audition for a lot. It so happened that the right fit came at the right time," he says of being cast in this production.
"'Akuma-shin' means 'god-devil,'" he says. "Kaiju or 'strange beast' monsters in Japanese media has always been used to symbolize the darkness in human hearts. This play leans on that as well."
Uy is eager to tackle the material. "Few playwrights are able to infuse so many layers in their writing without it sounding clumsy and fake. With Kenley, the lines flow easy like it's conversation," he adds.
While Uy is able to research documents about Yukio Mishima, he can only rely on the playwright's words to build another character he has been cast to portray.
"For George, who is a fictional character, it's more of a process of discovery for me through rehearsals. Kenley is brilliant when it comes to incorporating exposition within dialogue and so it was easy for me to put the pieces together.
Despite the presence of an otherworldly creature in the story, the play is not a campy comedy.
The play's alternate universe reconfigures historical figures in unfamiliar renderings: presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald becomes a decorated marine and congressman while Martin Luther King, Jr. is in jail.
"The show is a straight-up drama," explains Uy.
He goes on to point out that the play, despite its fictional premise, serves as an allegorical commentary to present circumstances.
He also highlights a component in the play that has to do with America's exchange with Japan. "The Japanese American experience has always been an example of how not to treat a certain demographic."
"The chaos in the TV studio is pretty parallel to a modern Twitter fight," he says.
"The play affected me in terms of how timely it is. The script tackles so many issues at once."
Ⓒ 2018 Inquirer.net