Arts & Events

Berkeley Early Music Festival Offers Myriad Delights

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday June 06, 2014 - 06:58:00 PM

The twelfth Berkeley Festival and Exhibition of Early Music got under way Sunday, June 1, 2014, with a 4:00 pm concert in St. Mark’s Episcopal Church by the group CIARAMELLA. Praised for performing intricate 15th century counter- point “with the ease of jazz musicians improvising on a theme,” CIARAMELLA specializes in extemporized polyphony over monophonic melodies and songs. As the concert began, three bagpipe players entered from the rear of the hall and marched solemnly through the audience, just as 15th century strolling players would have paraded through a village, gathering an audience along the way. -more-

AROUND AND ABOUT THEATER: Theatre of Yugen Stages ‘This Lingering Life’

Ken Bullock
Thursday June 05, 2014 - 05:20:00 PM

Theatre of Yugen has produced plays for 35 years based on the techniques of traditional Japanese theater, especially Kyogen comedy and Noh lyrical tragedy (to us, a contradiction in terms) and plays celebrating legend and myth. The actors employ rigorous physical techniques based in Japanese dance, patterns and movement often reminiscent of the martial arts. This San Francisco company is in many ways unique in its pursuit of both the practice of an ancient art—Nohgaku, as Noh and Kyogen are jointly referred to, is the oldest continuously staged theater form in the world—and experimenting at marrying these techniques to what’s written today.

In the past, great European playwrights like W. B. Yeats and Bertolt Brecht have turned to Noh, in particular, for inspiration when writing plays; Yukio Mishima also produced a series of plays based on Noh, but re-set in the contemporary world. New York-based playwright Chiori Miyagawa has written ’This Lingering Life,’ premiered by Yugen this Friday in a two-week run, with 28 characters in 24 scenes, the intersecting, overlapping stories based on nine classic Noh plays re-imagined as contemporary, or in a timeless world, today and the past blended together. -more-