INSPIRED BY TRADITIONAL JAPANESE THEATER, THIS MODERN AND FANTASTICAL PLAY NOW INSPIRES THE NEXT GENERATION OF THOUGHTFUL, CITIZEN ARTISTS
“Iizuka artfully and elegantly mashes up Japanese folk tales and fables into a play that manages to be simultaneously a fairy tale and contemporary.” (Star Tribune)
(Minneapolis/St. Paul) Theater Mu and SteppingStone Theatre for Youth team up for their second co-production with Naomi Iizuka’s THE LAST FIREFLY, directed by Daisuke Kawachi, as a means to continue their commitment to engage the next generation of theater artists and enthusiasts.
THE LAST FIREFLY will run March 21 – April 7, 2019 at SteppingStone Theatre. Theater Mu continues its PAY AS YOU ARE ticket pricing in order to keep tickets as accessible as possible. ASL interpreted and audio described performances are available on select dates. Individual tickets are now on sale online at theatermu.org/lastfirefly, by calling 651.789.1012, or by emailing email@example.com. For group sales and matinees, contact SteppingStone Theatre at 651.225.9265
It begins with light and a flash. Then comes a sound, a pulse, a beat, a crash like a giant hammer smashing through the sky. The fantastic story of Boom, the child of Thunder, is a mythical adventure about discovering one’s inner strength. After being forced out of the home at the hand of a cruel stepfather, Boom sets out on a journey of self-discovery where battles against forces of nature are courageously fought. Along the way, Boom encounters conflicts with animals of an enchanted forest. This epic tale combines Japanese fairy tales and folklore to create an exciting theatrical experience for young audiences.
After assistant directing last year’s THE PRINCESS’ NIGHTINGALE, Daisuke Kawachi is now set to direct this year’s Mu-SteppingStone co-production. “Naomi’s beautiful writing and the way she plays with the conventions of Kabuki give me so much to work with,” says Kawachi. “I’m most excited to utilize our extraordinary ensemble of young actors to generate scene shifts and to create practical magic in the tradition of the kuroko.”
Kabuki refers to the traditional Japanese style of theater that utilizes highly stylized movements and extraordinary staging and costuming, while kuroko refers to the supposedly “invisible” actors who create the special effects on stage. In her script, Iizuka leaves a note explaining the inspiration drawn from the conventions of Kabuki theater. She adds, “I am an American playwright living in the beginning of the 21st century. I am a product of many traditions. The traditions of Kabuki are meant to be a starting point. What happens next is up for grabs.” And that is exactly what Kawachi and the production team will do.
Executive and Artistic Director of SteppingStone Theatre for Youth, Mark Hauck, is thrilled to be co-producing THE LAST FIREFLY. “Iizuka doesn’t shy away from the frightening, or the downright silly, realities children face as they make the journey toward discovering their power and place in the world.”
Kawachi echoes this sentiment, “At its core, this is a story about going on a journey of self-discovery that allows Boom to stand up to an abusive stepfather. It’s also about how stories can give people strength. The transformative nature of theater pushes Boom forward and ultimately allows him to triumph.”
The transformative nature of theater is what leads the two Twin Cities art organizations towards each other. SteppingStone has committed itself to fostering the development of students through the art making process while Theater Mu’s mission has always been to celebrate and empower the Asian American community through theater. THE LAST FIREFLY marks the second production in Mu’s goal to more purposefully engage families and young audiences. Together, the two theaters serve over 45,000 Minnesotans a year, and the intent of the co-production is to diversify the stories of youth theater and cultivate the next generation of thoughtful, citizen artists.
Says Assistant Director, Sara Ochs, “Supporting young people’s love of the arts is deeply important to me because my first experiences onstage occurred when I was a teen – the same age as many of our cast members. That work had a lasting impact on my life. I look forward to sharing this powerful experience with the talented young people in our cast and crew.”
“So many young people struggle to figure out who they are, what special magic they bring to the world”, says Hauck, “THE LAST FIREFLY embraces this question and takes us on a fantastical journey that speaks to children and adults alike.”
The cast of THE LAST FIREFLY includes Eva Allinder, Julia Biddlecome, Sakura Callahan, Gabi Del Moral*, Sarah Freeby, John Lutterman, Yeej Moua, Isabella, Shapland, Will Spangrud, Annika Wade, Shina Xiong, Tristan Xiong, Gregory Yang, and Jade Yang
The creative team for THE LAST FIREFLY includes Daisuke Kawachi (Director), Sara Ochs (Assistant Director), Lizzie Strief* (Stage Manager), Emiko Hinds (Assistant Stage Manager), Sarah Brandner (Set Designer), Tony Stoeri (Lighting Designer), Dameun Strange (Sound Designer), Meghan Kent (Costume Designer), Abbee Warmboe (Props Designer), and Annie Enneking (Fight Director).
*Denotes member of Actors Equity Association
ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT
Naomi Iizuka’s plays include 36 VIEWS, POLAROID STORIES, ANON(YMOUS), LANGUAGE OF ANGELS, ALOHA, SAY THE PRETTY GIRLS, TATTOO GIRL, SKIN, AT THE VANISHING POINT, CONCERNING STRANGE DEVICES FROM THE DISTANT WEST, LAST FIREFLY, CITIZEN 13559, and WAR OF THE WORLDS. Her work has been produced by Guthrie Theater, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Children’s Theatre Company, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Huntington Theatre Company, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Geva Theatre Center, Portland Center Stage, The Public Theater, Campo Santo and Intersection for the Arts, Dallas Theater Center, The Next Wave Festival at Brooklyn Academy of Music, Soho Repertory Theatre and Edinburgh International Festival. Her work has been workshopped at Sundance Theatre Lab, Midwest PlayLabs, New Works Now at The Public Theater, Performance Space 122, Manhattan Theatre Club and Seattle Repertory Theatre. Her plays have been published by Theatre Communications Group, Smith and Kraus Publishers, Inc., Heinemann, Playscripts, TheatreForum and American Theater. Ms. Iizuka is a member of New Dramatists and the recipient of a Joyce Award, a PEN/Laura Pels Award, an Alpert Award, a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Stavis Award from the National Theatre Conference, a Rockefeller Foundation MAP grant, an NEA/TCG Artist-in-Residence grant, a McKnight Fellowship, a PEN Center USA West Award for Drama, Princeton University’s Hodder Fellowship and a Jerome Fellowship. She is the head of the graduate MFA Playwriting program at the University of California, San Diego.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Daisuke Kawachi is a Minneapolis based director. He primarily works with new plays. His work has been seen at Playwrights’ Center, Guthrie Theater, Steppingstone Theatre, Theater Mu, Open Eye Figure Theater, and the Minneapolis Fringe Festival.
March 22 – 7:00 PM
March 23 – 3:00 PM
March 24 – 3:00 PM
March 29 – 7:00 PM (Audio Described)
March 30 – 3:00 PM
March 31 – 3:00 PM (ASL Interpreted)
April 5 – 7:00 PM
April 6 – 3:00 PM
April 7 – 3:00 PM
March 21 – 10:00 AM
March 22 – 10:00 AM
March 27 – 10:00 AM
March 28 – 10:00 AM, 12:00 PM
April 4 – 10:00 AM, 12:00 PM
April 5 – 10:00 AM
Mu strives to voice the stories of the Asian American community, and in order to bring performances to those communities whose stories they tell, Mu is committed to being as accessible as possible. PAY AS YOU ARE ticket pricing asks those who routinely pay $20 for children’s theater tickets to choose to pay that; it is the actual fair market value of the ticket. If an audience member needs to pay less, they can choose to do so – as little as $5 per ticket.
Theater Mu is a proud member of the Twin Cities Theatres of Color Coalition – along with New Native Theatre, Pangea World Theater, Penumbra Theatre, Teatro Del Pueblo – as well as the Consortium of Asian American Theaters & Artists.