Adapted by Jane Traynor, with input from Shigeyama Sennojō III and the THEA 490 Class
Directed by Jane Traynor
Stage Management by Ethan Castillo
Costume Design by Isabella Dixon
Scenic Design by Laura Nigon-Holmgren
Zoom Host – Catherine Ann Restivo
IT Guy – Robert Torigoe
Mushroom – Maggie Ivanova
Kusabira (“Mushrooms”) was probably the first kyōgen play that I fell in love with. The absurdity of the premise, a man who is plagued by mysterious mushrooms, alongside the chaos of a small nōgaku stage filled to the edges with actors in “mushroom” costumes, was at once charming and utterly hilarious. Since then, that play has simmered in the back of my mind, waiting for an opportunity to come bubbling to the surface. That opportunity finally came when an off-hand comment during an online class helped me to connect the play with the idea of people popping into Zoom calls.
With so much of our lives having shifted to the virtual realm, I wanted to create a piece that explored the ups and downs of what has become our everyday routine. Kusabira was such a great fit for an adaptation. The themes of losing control, futile attempts at maintaining order, and being subject to the whims of nature are something I know everyone can relate to these days. When we open up ourselves to storytelling traditions outside of our own culture, it’s amazing what sorts of gems can be found and what crazy ideas they can inspire. The world truly is our oyster…mushroom!