And in Tacoma, innovative theater keeps happening

By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index

I’ve only been to four or five productions by the Tacoma Little Theatre, but I have to say that, from what I have seen, the production quality, at the very least, matches stage productions from far larger, and more recognized venues.

Local live theater is an expression like no other; we see stories (sometimes familiar, sometimes original and experimental) presented by actors – some professional – some passionate amateurs – who put their voices and physical presence in the service of the story.

In some of the barely recognized corners of Tacoma, even more newer and improvisational stagecraft is emerging.

I’ll have more on these groups later, but for now, here are a few Tacoma-based production companies to keep an eye on.

Chevi Chung is the founder and artistic director for a newly formed company based in a studio at the Old Post Office building in downtown Tacoma called empathos company. You can contact them at lacapitana@empathos.company.

Niclas Olson is the founder and artistic director for New Muses Theatre Company, which performs at The Dukesbay Theater. His email contact info is: n.olson@newmuses.com.

And if you were wondering about who, what or where Dukesbay Theater might be, you have the opportunity to catch a current performance as Dukesbay Productions presents Philip Kan Gotanda’s Yohen:

A marriage that is falling apart: between James, an African American man, and Sumi, a Japanese national who met her husband while he served in post-war Japan. After James’ retirement from the Army, the cracks in the pottery of their 37 year marriage begin to crumble.

When James is told to leave their house, Sumi asks that they start over from the beginning. Date again. See each other through new eyes. Can a new life routine (which includes James volunteering at a local community center and Sumi studying the art of pottery) help them repair what is broken and save what is worth keeping?

Yohen is a Japanese pottery term which refers to an “accident in the kiln firing that results in transformation of the pot.” Philip Kan Gotanda’s story uses this term as a metaphor for James’ and Sumi’s marriage, as they struggle to find permanence amidst change. Yohen is a humorous and bittersweet story that is an exploration of long-term love amidst ethnic and cultural differences.

Photo: Morf Morford

Photo: Morf Morford

All proceeds for Yohen will benefit Tacoma’s new Bryant Neighborhood Center, which will begin building in Spring of 2019. The Bryant Neighborhood Center’s mission is to build community and provide collaborative services and support to the surrounding Bryant/Jason Lee neighborhood.

Yohen, written by Philip Kan Gotanda, directed by Randy Clark.

October 26, 27, 28, and November 2, 3, and 4, 2018

The Dukesbay Theater, 508 Sixth Ave. #10

Tacoma, WA 98402

Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays at 2:00pm

Tickets are $15, general admission and $25, benefactor admission. Admission includes your choice of coffee, tea and an assortment of cookies. For tickets: http://dukesbayyohen.brownpapertickets.com

For more information: info@dukesbay.org or 253-350-7680

About Dukesbay Productions

Dukesbay Productions was founded in 2011 by Tacoma theatre artists Randy Clark and Aya Hashiguchi Clark.

Randy has been active in the Tacoma theatre scene as an actor and director since the 1970s. His work has been seen at Lakewood Playhouse, Tacoma Little Theatre and Theatre NW. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Tacoma Little Theatre. Aya has appeared at several Seattle/Tacoma theatres, including ReAct Theatre, SIS Productions, Renton Civic Theatre, Tacoma Musical Playhouse and Lakewood Playhouse, and served as producer for 8 plays and a Playwrights Festival for Burien Actors Theatre.

Dukesbay Productions’ mission is to promote independent theatre in Tacoma and to showcase the works of theatre artists of all ethnicities. Their company’s website is located at: www.dukesbay.org.