Mangekyo is Japanese for kaleidoscope. A union of complex, intricate patterns in a constant flux--we think it represents the members perfectly. We are unique in our own ways and are always evolving as individual people, as a member of society, as a community.
The goal of devising is to develop something new and authentic. The artists involved don’t have one specific task or role - all “ensemble members'' are actors, writers, designers, and directors. Using source material as a starting point, we do writing prompts, drawing and image building, and lots of improvisation to tease out the kinds of stories we want to tell and how we want to tell them. We try our best to create a safe space for the ensemble members to reflect, share, and exchange ideas. This highly organic process allows the characters and story to reflect many perspectives and lived experiences from ensemble members. We all collectively develop and create the artistic vision of the piece.
For the workshop performance, we used Japanese mythology as our source material. We chose Japanese mythology in order to gain a better understanding of Japan. Folklore can provide a unique window into a society and its values.
However, the piece is not a retelling of Japanese mythology, but merely a starting point used to express the idea that while Japan may seem mono-cultural at first glance, it has a rich, diverse range of people that call it home.
Theatre Mangekyo has, as it’s foundation, the following objectives:
We strive to achieve these objectives through first collecting first-hand experiences from a diverse group of people in Japan and developing stories that show different perspectives, while also presenting themes that are common to all as human beings. We aim to create pieces that are both enjoyable and moving- that motivate action, both internal and external. In the stories we tell, we hold respect and truthfulness as our highest standard. It is our hope, that through our work, audiences may find opportunities for reflection, and through that reflection discover new things about themselves and Japan. Conversations about social change are of value in all countries and contexts; we aim to plant seeds that may provoke such conversations.
Juri Ito (she/her/hers) is Co-director and Organizer of Theatre Mangekyo. Born in Tokyo, she spent a few years of her childhood in New York. She got into the world of theatre during her study abroad at the University of California, San Diego. She then went on to deeply immerse herself in productions by the Theatre Department there. Her main roles and productions at the University included: Director, Brushstrokes Through Time and Stage Manager, The Odyssey. She was also dramaturge for the OKUNI Musical; a musical about a kabuki actress by Naomi Iizuka and Paul Hodge during The Ground Floor Summer Residency Lab at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in 2018.
Currently, her focus is in directing and writing, specializing in devised theatre. She has always been fascinated by how art is constantly evolving and moving forward in devised work. In 2019, she put on a devised version of ANTIGONE as Director and Assistant Artistic Director of Yokohama Theatre Group. Juri creates from her experience as a bilingual and bicultural young Japanese woman, and is interested in Japan’s creative sector and its potential in aiding social impact. Besides directing and writing, she also translates and handles PR for Theatre Mangekyo’s first workshop performance.
Faith Evans (she/her/hers) is Co-director and Organizer of Theatre Mangekyo. She began performing in stage plays in elementary school and continued to participate as an actor in school, church, and community theatre pieces well into college. Her most notable roles include playing the Witch (Into the Woods) and Ruth (Pirates of Penzance) in her high school productions. She took a hiatus from theatre when she moved to Japan in 2012. She became active again in 2018 through the Nagoya theater scene. She worked as a member of the production crew for Gerry in the Attic (KPB Theatre) in 2018 and Speaking in Tongues (Theatre Iridescence) in 2019. She returned to the stage in November 2019 as Cooper in Unmarked (Aichi Vision). Besides directing and writing, she creates social media content and also acts in Theatre Mangekyo’s first workshop performance.
Natasha Milligan (she/her/hers) is Stage Manager and Organizer of Theatre Mangekyo. Born and raised in Arizona, she always had a deep curiosity for Japan due to her roots and family heritage in Japan, and being born to a ballroom dance family, a passion for the arts as well. She performed as an actor, director, choreographer, and teacher at community theatre for over twelve years, and during her first couple years in college discovered a love for stage management. She has stage managed productions at such as Revolt. She said. Revolt again. And Dead City. In an effort to connect her love for both Japan and theatre, she participated in a devised version of ANTIGONE at Yokohama Theatre Group as the stage manager for their summer showcase. Most recently she was sound designing for Blood Wedding at Willamette University before the COVID-19 pandemic caused the production to be cancelled. Although she has lived and studied in Japan many times, she is excited to be moving to Japan in 2021 as a Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) on the JET Program, and she hopes to continue being involved in the performing arts as a bridge for English-speaking countries and Japan. Besides stage managing, she also works on marketing and tech for Theatre Mangekyo’s first workshop performance.
Aya Kawakami(she/her/hers) is Producer and Organizer of Theatre Mangekyo. She started her acting career at the age of 9 when she was cast in the Sound of Music during a nationwide open call in Singapore for the Victoria Theatre. Some of her memorable theatre credits since then include playing Maria (West Side Story, Asian American Playhouse), Eva Peron (Evita, Gateway Theater), and the Beggar Woman (Sweeney Todd, Gateway Theater), as well as musically directing Once Upon a Mattress ( Brand X Theater). She made her Japanese stage debut in minor roles for Maya Opera, an opera company located in Hiroshima. She has been an active member of the Nagoya theatre scene for the past decade, participating in such productions as Dreamcatcher (Nuk'pana/vocal coach/assistant director, KPB Theatre), Nagasaki Dust (Kimiko, KAN劇Theater), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Puck, Nameless Theater), and Snow Angel (Kana, producer, independent production). In 2017, Aya founded Theatre Iridescence, an English-Japanese fusion theatre company, and wrote, musically directed, starred in, and produced the musical Transit. She has gone on to produce and direct a bilingual version of Medea, set in Edo period Japan, and produce and star in Speaking in Tongues for Theatre Iridescence in 2018 and 2019. Besides producing, she also works on marketing and tech for Theatre Mangekyo’s first workshop performance.