March 17, 2006

Life-sized puppets to come alive in The Love Suicides at Sonezaki

Photo: Students Michael LaPlante (left) and Michael Halvea working with the puppet “Kuheiji” for the upcoming production of The Love Suicides at Sonezaki.
Students Michael LaPlante (left) and Michael Halvea work with the puppet “Kuheiji” for the upcoming production of The Love Suicides at Sonezaki.

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A rare college production of the Japanese classic The Love Suicides at Sonezaki featuring life-sized puppets opens April 14 at 8 p.m. in Sacramento State’s University Theater in Shasta Hall.

A special benefit performance for the Sacramento State Friends of the Library will be held on April 13 at 7 p.m.

The Love Suicides at Sonezaki, first performed in Kyoto in 1703, is the work of Chikamatsu Monzaemon, considered by many to be the “Japanese Shakespeare” and the greatest dramatist in Japanese literature. The tragic story of a simple shop clerk in love with a courtesan, The Love Suicides at Sonezaki was written specifically for the bunraku, or puppet theatre, a form of Japanese classical theater in which puppeteers operate on stage with dialogue coming from just off stage. One of the first works in Japanese literature to portray the common man as heroic, the story was translated into English by Donald Keene, a scholar on Japanese literature.

Sacramento State’s Richard Bay, noted professor of puppetry in the Department of Theatre and Dance, designed the life-size puppets and will direct the production, which also will include Chinese shadow puppets, contemporary dance styles, and traditional and modern Asian music. Bay, who said it is unusual for a college to tackle such an ambitious production as The Love Suicides at Sonezaki, has been honored for his creative puppet designs and productions using puppets on stage.

Performances of The Love Suicides at Sonezaki begin April 14 at 8 p.m. Performances continue at 2 and 8 p.m. on April 15; 6:30 p.m., April 19; 8 p.m., April 20-22 and 2 p.m. on April 23. Ticket prices are $15 for general admission, $12 for students, faculty and staff, and $10 for senior citizens and high school students. For more information, call (916) 278-6702 or visit www.csus.edu/dram For tickets, call the Sacramento State Ticket Office at (916) 278-4323 or go to Tickets.com.

Tickets for the benefit performance are $30 and are available at (916) 278-5954.

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