In the garden, two suns to shine on the Burton Auditorium stage

One of the gems of contemporary Japanese theatre – Hisashi Inoue’s compelling drama In the garden, two suns – will come to life in an English-language dramatic reading in the Department of Theatre’s Prime Time series on Nov. 9.

Set in Hiroshima in the aftermath of the atomic blast, the play tells the tale of a young librarian named Mitsue (played by company member Marjorie Chan), and her dead father Takezo (played by company member Paul Sung-Hyng Lee), a ghost who shares her small apartment. Deeply felt, touching and at times humorous, it is a story about living after surviving, and rediscovering the human things that make a heart do more than beat.

In the words of the playwright: “To die in Hiroshima was the natural thing to do. To survive here is unnatural.”

In the garden, two suns premiered in 1994 in Tokyo and has since been produced innumerable times throughout Japan and made into a major motion picture, titled The Face of Jizo. Adapted by Chan and Damien Atkins from the translation by Roger Pulvers, the play made its Canadian debut as a Crow’s Theatre production, presented by The Japan Foundation, last January. In the form of a dramatic reading, it is currently touring Toronto under the auspices of The Japan Foundation.

The production is directed by York theatre alumnus Jim Millan (BFA ’83), the founding artistic director of Crow’s Theatre, and York theatre graduate Tanya Smith (MFA ’03), a contract faculty member in York’s Theatre Department, provided the assistant direction.

Millan is a prominent Canadian director and writer. During the 21-year history of his company, Crow’s Theatre has produced more than 60 new works and has toured extensively throughout Canada and abroad. Millan has directed productions in Canada, Scotland, England, Ireland, Mexico City and the US. His current projects include a tour of Morris Panych’s play Earshot; writing a new script, titled Director’s Cut; a South American tour of Scooby Doo, a Warner Bros. production he has written and directed about the beloved Hanna-Barbera character; and producing a tour of Morris Panych’s new script What Lies Before Us (2006).

An actor, director, producer and writer, Smith is the artistic director of The Carey St. Performance Experiment, a new company dedicated to the development of works that provide opportunities to marginalized artists and demographics that have been under represented in the theatre community. She is currently basking in the success of Carey St. Theatre’s first production Thank You, which she wrote, produced and starred in. Smith is also the founder and director of The Actor’s/Playwright’s Retreat. Her recent directing credits include K.D. and the Bomb, The Women, and her short film Anagnorisis, which took first place at last year’s Digital Gun Awards short filmmaking competition. She is currently assisting Millan with Director’s Cut, Earshot, What Lies Before Us and Scooby Doo.

Chan is a Toronto-based writer and performer who has appeared across Canada in stage, screen and radio productions. Her debut as a playwright was the acclaimed drama China Doll (Nightwood Theatre), which garnered several Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations and last week put Chan on the list of nominees for a 2005 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama. She also wrote the libretto for the short opera Mother Everest for Opera To Go (Tapestry New Opera Works) which aired on CBC Radio, where she has worked extensively as an actor, writer and producer. This year she returned to the Factory Theatre’s Playwrights’ Lab to continue developing Atomic Closet, a collaboration with designers Joanne Dente, Camellia Koo and Nina Okens.

Toronto actor Sung-Hyng Lee’s stage credits include Godzilla (Crow’s Theatre), Mother Tongue (Cahoots Theatre), The Hobbit (Young People’s Theatre), 1837: The Farmer’s Revolt (Theatre Passe Muraille), and Mom, Dad, I’m Living with a White Girl, Dreams of Blonde and Blue (Cahoots), as well as a long list of television and film credits.

In the garden, two suns will be presented Nov. 9 at 11:30am in Burton Auditorium. Admission is free.