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New Vision Arts Festival closing performance "Geisha"

Geisha, an exotic, mysterious symbol of Japanoiserie, will be explored in Singaporean director Ong Keng Sen's theatre production "Geisha".

"Geisha" is the closing performance of the New Vision Arts Festival organised by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. It will be staged on November 17 and 18 at 8pm at Kwai Tsing Theatre Auditorium.

Geisha combines top talent from Asian and Western theatre. Karen Kandel, a three-time OBIE award-winner, takes on multiple roles employing contemporary Western acting techniques. She is very versatile and plays 15 to 20 characters -- different geishas and young geishas. She forms an interesting contrast to performances of kabuki and nihon buyoh (classical Japanese dance) by legendary Japanese kabuki performer Masanosuke Gojo. Gojo also plays a geisha's role and performs the parts of women as in a kabuki. The juxtaposition of different genders spin an illusion that the director not only tends to thrive on, but also to spin a dream world for the audience.

Coupled with live performances by shamisen master Katsuyoshiju Kineya and electronic music wizard Toru Yamanaka, this colourful piece reveals the intrinsic cultural heart of the geisha's world.

An interdisciplinary performance practitioner, curator, and researcher of artistic process, Ong Keng Sen has been Artistic Director of TheatreWorks (Singapore) since 1988. He is now Artistic Director of the newest creative space in Singapore, 72-13. Ong's productions have toured cities in Asia, Australia, Europe, and the United States, and his initiatives reflect his interest in theatre that is transcultural, interdisciplinary, and collaborative. Ong's works have been seen at various prestigious festivals and theatres, including The Lincoln Center (New York, USA), Zurcher Theater Spektakel (Zurich, Switzerland), Schouwburg (Rotterdam, the Netherlands), Dansens Hus (Stockholm, Sweden), Dansens Hus (Oslo, Norway), Adelaide Festival and Melbourne International Arts Festival, as well as Bunkamura Theatre Cocoon and the Morishita Studios (Tokyo, Japan). Ong is the first Singaporean artist to have received both the National Arts Council's Young Artist of the Year Award (1992) and the Cultural Medallion for Theatre (2003).

A pre-performance talk conducted in English, will be held at 7.30pm tomorrow (November 14), at 27/F, Club Lusitano Building, 16 Ice House Street, Central. Speakers are director Ong Keng Sen and actress Karen Kandel. Admission is free.

"Geisha" is performed in English with Chinese surtitles,and Japanese lyrics with Chinese and English surtitles. Tickets priced at $360, $240 and $120 are available at URBTIX outlets.

For programme enquiries, call 2370 1044.

Ends/Monday, November 13, 2006

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