The Lady Aoiby Yukio Mishima
A ghostly apparition appears in a hospital room in this modern version of an ancient Japanese Noh play, adapted by Yukio Mishima and performed with puppets by the widely acclaimed Abrahamse-Meyer Company from South Africa.
directed by Fred Abrahamse
Abrahamse-Meyer ProductionsCape Town, South Africa
Illustration by David Chick
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"I think that you in Japan are so close to us in the Southern states... A kind of beauty and grace. So that although it is horror... it has also the mystery of life, which is an elegant thing..."
— Tennessee Williams, in conversation with Yukio Mishima
from Edward R. Murrow's CBS program Small World, May 8, 1960
About the Production
Performer Marcel Meyer shares some thoughts on what makes this year's production so special:
"The major theme of The Lady Aoi is the theme of unrequited love -- and that is something each of us can relate to. At some stage almost everyone has been deeply in love with a person who isn't in love with them -- and all the pain and suffering that brings along with it -- and Mishima has so beautifully distilled the essence of unrequited love and passion in his sparse and poetic little play.
"This year I play two women. So I'll be tapping into my feminine side for this play. In the opening scene I play a young nurse attending on the ailing Lady Aoi, and for the rest of the play I play Lady Aoi's tormentor, an aging beauty called Mrs. Rokujo. Behind the scene [director Fred Abrahamse] and I have designed and constructed the puppet, masks and costumes for the production."
About the Play
Yukio Mishima was one of Japan's greatest twentieth-century writers. The Lady Aoi, written in 1954, is his modern telling of Aoi no Ue, first produced during Japan's Heian period a thousand years ago and one of numerous Noh plays based on the Tale of Genji.
Tennessee Williams didn't know who Mishima was when they first met on the street in 1957. This didn't stop Williams from inviting the handsome, elegantly dressed Japanese man with the aristocratic English accent to stop by for tea and martinis. The next day, the writers were formally introduced to each other at the offices of New Directions, the house that published them both.
From this time until Mishima's suicide in 1970, the two shared an appreciation of the violence and beauty that suffused both the Japanese and American Southern cultures. Mishima wrote a number of modern Noh plays, several of which inspired plays by Williams (The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore, In a Bar in a Tokyo Hotel, and The Day on Which a Man Dies, which features a Mishima-like narrator).
About the Creative Team
Marcel Meyer is a founding member of Abrahamse-Meyer Productions, one of a few independent classical theatre companies in South Africa. The small company built up an excellent international reputation, particularly through their innovative productions of Shakespeare plays.
"Marcel Meyer delivers compelling work as the masculine, earthbound Chicken. ...he reveals Chicken's tortured soul bit by bit so that both Myrtle and the audience are seduced by him as the play progresses."
— Broadway World review of Kingdom of Earth, December 2012
Fred Abrahamse (Director) graduated from the University of Cape Town. He started his career at the Space Theatre, as a founder member of Troupe Theatre Company. He went on to become Artistic Director at The Baxter Theatre and is now a freelance producer and director. Fred is also a well-respected theatre designer. His theatre involvement spans some twenty years and sixty-five odd productions. He has directed dramas, opera, musicals, cabarets, musical theatre and several community theatre groups. He has been nominated for, and won, several prestigious theatre awards. Steven Berkoff‘s Decadence and Greek, The Glass Menagerie, Angels in America, Shirley Valentine, District Six-the Musical, Steel Magnolias, Beautiful Thing and A Midsummer Night’s Dream are among his directorial attributes. As Producer and Director his productions include Station 70,The Buddy Holly Story, Return to the Forbidden Planet, Grease, Solid Gold Jukebox Abba (ish), DISCOvery, Bouncers and Shopping & F***ing. Of his productions at least twenty have involved bringing new South African work to the stage. In 1999 Fred co-founded The Gauloises Warehouse Theatre with Charl-Johan Lingenfelder and acted as producing management for 37 productions including -Joe Barber, Naked Boys Singing, My Night with Reg and Abdullah Ibrahiem before closing in September 2003. The highlight of the Warehouse Theatre undoubtedly being the production of Joe Barber which was seen by over 45,000 people. Fred’s 2005 productions include the highly successful Much Ado About Nothing, The Canal Walk Children’s Festival of Fun, The Secret Love Life of Ophelia, The Stabani Project and Bouncers. 2006 saw Fred’s highly controversial productions of Romeo and Juliet and Bangbroek Mountain the Musical playing to capacity houses in Cape Town. Fred is currently working on several film projects including writing his first feature length film.