Created by Created by Iana Weingrad, Jake C. Wolf, Chrisslene Jimerson, and Maggie Ivanova; with input from the Cast
Directed by Maggie Ivanova
Stage management by Maggie Ivanova and Ethan Castillo
Costume design by Hannah Schauer Galli
Martian Captain – Audrey Castañeda Walker
Martian Tarō – Iana Weingrad
Martian Jirō – Clayton Searcy
The themes of time travel, experiencing space-time distortion, encountering life on Mars or extra-terrestrial visitors have occupied creative minds for many, many years. They account for the continuous popularity of long-running series, like Doctor Who and Star Trek, to name just two. Earthbound invites us to apply a mischievous lens when we revisit these themes in kyōgen, shifting the point of view to the Martians: how might the crew of a Martian spaceship prepare for a mission to Earth? It was pure serendipity that NASA landed its Perseverance rover on Mars on February 18 this year. Now Mars is on the move.
Our Earthbound is hardly the first kyōgen play to tackle alien visitors to Earth. A notable first is Shigeyama Akira’s The Fox and the Alien (Kitsune to Uchūjin, 1978), which offers a satiric critique of human wastefulness and inability to protect the environment and the natural resources on which our very existence depends. As humanity now extends our reach towards other planets in the Solar System, the continued relevance of this piece is hard to miss or ignore. Earthbound pays stylistic homage to its cosmic kyōgen predecessor by integrating on visual and narrative levels one particular design element from the yukata which Shigeyama Akira wore: we give our audience four opportunities to spot it.
Most audience members would probably recognize the familiar sound of the shakuhachi playing an unfamiliar, catchy tune during the three time-space distortion dances. Building on the spirit of play and the comic potential of reversed expectations, which we associate with kyōgen, we use the tune of a popular folk song from Bulgaria. This is one of the ways Earthbound explores the unfamiliar within the familiar; the contemporary within (remotely) traditional forms; and the extra-terrestrial within every single one of us. Because as scientists keep reminding us, we are made of stardust. For the Earthbound team this year, the supernova generating the stardust is the close encounter with kyōgen and Shigeyama Sennojō III. Thank you, Sensei!