About the Grant

$30,000 to support Ainu Shadow Project (MAP 2011), a new multidisciplinary shadow-theater work created by Larry Reed in collaboration with Oki Kano.

About the Project

“Mythology, when reenacted, provides a place for public dreaming, ultimately linking everyday life with the sacred, the present with the past, and individual with community.” –Larry Reed

Ainu Shadow Project (working title) is a multidisciplinary shadow-theater project that explores the music and mythology of the Ainu tribe of Hokkaido, Japan, to illuminate the history and power of this little known indigenous culture. Created by shadow-master Larry Reed in collaboration with Oki Kano (an Ainu musician specializing in the tonkori, a traditional fretless string instrument), the project uses as launching pads tales from the Ainu epic song cycle of yukar. Traditionally sung by a single narrator with no musical accompaniment, these supernatural tales will be heightened by the distinctive sound of Kano’s tonkori and his original, modern renditions of Ainu folk songs.

Reed’s original shadow-casting methods will round out the evening, unfolding a distinctive Ainu universe, yet evoking a mythological experience for a contemporary audience. Other collaborators include musicians from the world-music-inspired Oki Dub Ainu Band; MAREWREW, a female chorus specializing in Ainu ceremonial songs; and members of Urotsutenoyako Bayangans, an emerging shadow-theater company based in Tokyo, Japan, who perform under the artistic direction of Tetsuro Koyano. Ainu Shadow Project will be performed in the Ainu language with Japanese and English narrations.

After centuries of oppression and displacement, Ainu history and cultural heritage are largely unknown to the rest of the world. Ainu Shadow Project will go beyond the issue of Ainu-versus-Japanese by posing questions from global points of view. It will premiere May 2013 in San Francisco.

Related Websites

Shadowlight Productions

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