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Icarus: A New Noh in English

Margaux Massey, Staff Reporter - February 13, 2013

When George Bellah came into Elise Forier Edie’s office and said he wanted to create a new Noh drama, she quickly agreed.

“He wanted it to be based on a Greek myth and he wanted it to be put on in 2012,” said Forier Edie, associate professor of theater arts. “The project was interesting and sounded like fun.”

From this interaction, “Icarus” was born. Forier Edie wrote the text of the play while Kevin Salfen composed the music.

The play is a Noh drama, which is a 14th century Japanese form of drama where most of the characters wear masks. It’s not a traditional form of theater and Forier Edie says that it’s not like the typical Western theater people expect. She says it isn’t about something the way a TV show or a movie is.

“It’s about grief, loss and redemption,” Forier Edie said. “Anyone that is going to this play expecting to get a story will not get one. It’s more of a dance and story fusion.”

The play has been chosen to go to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. The festival is a regional and national competition for every aspect of the theater arts, with competitions in acting, directing, playwriting, design, stage management and even a technical theater Olympics.

The cast and crew of Icarus will go down to Sacramento next week in order to perform their show in the competition. This show was chosen out of 200 entrants from the Northwest to be one of the four finalists at the competition. The winners of the tournaments can get prizes and in some cases, scholarships.

Not all of the students going are competing as actors; they also are sending some technical crew down as well.

As for prepping for the competition, the cast and crew are rehearsing and remounting the show in order to get the set ready to travel down to Sacramento, Forier Edie said.

The play is judged in every aspect, from how well the cast and crew set up and take down the set to how professional and effective the performance itself is.

“It will be interesting to perform in Sacramento because the space will be different,” said Lloyd Peña, a theater arts major who plays Kyogen in the play.

The crew is taking the set down to Sacramento with them, and because of that, certain parts of the play will have to be cut.

The crew had to build a new set that could tour and be taken down to Sacramento. They have to deal with an entirely different space to both set up and take down in, which might be a challenge for them.

Regardless, students going are excited for more than just performing the play. They are excited about the experience of going to a different state and performing the play for a whole new group of people.

“We get to share with other theater programs what we do,” said Janice Fix, a senior performance major and head of the female chorus in the play. “I’d really love to hear other people’s takes on it, especially other school’s theater programs.”

The day after the performance in Sacramento, there will be a “talk back” which will allow all those who attended a chance discuss what they saw. Fix says she is excited to hear other people’s perspectives on the show.

This isn’t a first-time experience for Central’s theater program.

“We have been finalists a number of times,’ Forier Edie said. The school doesn’t enter the competition every year due to costs, but Forier Edie did say that the last time they were at regionals was back in 2008, when they won for the play ‘Noh Telling.’

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