Acclaimed Playwright/Director Prof. Natsu Onoda Power’s Interactive “Okinawa Field Trip” Invites Virtual Audiences to Join a Bus Exploration of Islands and Military Presence April 19-29, 2021
Part of Georgetown University Theater & Performance Studies Program season, creative participatory project combines protests, Pacific beaches, and puppets
Washington, DC — Singular playwright-director Natsu Onoda Power, known for her “bracingly original and head-spinning” (Boston Globe) and “breathtakingly imaginative, eye-delighting” (Washington Post) work, creates a new interactive and virtual theater experience “Okinawa Field Trip” to transport audiences out of their pandemic-bound living rooms Monday, April 19 – Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 7 p.m. and Monday, April 26 – Thursday, April 29, 2021 at 7 p.m.
The virtual event serves as the main project in the Georgetown University Theater & Performance Studies Program’s 2020-21 home season, “Seeds of Change: Reimagining the World,” celebrating the Davis Performing Arts Center’s 15th anniversary.
The multiple Helen Hayes Award-winning (“The Lathe of Heaven,” Spooky Action Theater/Georgetown University) GU Theater & Performance Studies Professor develops the project with a group of students, loading clusters of virtual participants aboard a “bus” to “real-and-imaginary” Okinawa. As the bus travels through time and space, the audiences will encounter characters from Okinawan folk tales, take selfies on beautiful beaches, meet a lonely ghost of a U.S. soldier, sample some delicious Okinawan food, and observe a contemporary-day protest against the construction of a new US Marine base in Henoko Bay.
With the assistance of host Doug, a dugong (critically endangered marine mammal related to a manatee that dwells in waters off Okinawa Prefecture), the whimsical and powerful “Okinawa Field Trip” explores themes of environmental issues alongside US-Japan relationships, social justice, and historical reconciliation.
As Onoda Power describes the project, “Think ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ meets ‘Get on the Bus’ meets ‘The March of the Penguins’… But interactive!” She notes, “Okinawa is simultaneously the most beautiful, the most welcoming, the most oppressed, and the most haunted place I have ever been.”
Mainland Japan-born Onoda Power went to Okinawa for the first time in Sept. 2019 to begin conducting research for a new play. When she returned to the island in March 2020, her trip was unexpectedly prolonged when the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic broke out and flights were cancelled. During her extended stay, Power learned about and live streamed nonviolent protests by residents that have taken place daily for the past 20 years (except Sundays, holidays, and typhoon days), against the expansion of a United States military base.
Prof. Maya E. Roth, artistic director of the Davis Performing Arts Center, says, “‘Okinawa Field Trip’ speaks to our ‘Seeds of Change: Reimagining the World’ season theme on many levels. It exemplifies our developmental incubation of new work and experimentation with new ways of making theater. We are thrilled to support faculty member Natsu Onoda Power as artist, activist, and researcher, and her commitment to multimedia experimentation—involving students and guest artists—and to cross-cultural community engagement, including Natsu’s ‘Adaptation’ class as they assist in adapting Okinawan folk tales for the project, as well as artists and activists in Okinawa.”
Both “Okinawa Field Trip” and Onoda Power’s “Okinawa Demo Reel”—an episodic video project featured as part of Studio Theatre’s new work incubator series, Studio R&D: Works in Process—are all part of COVID-era development of a new production intended for eventual live audiences. Studio’s “Okinawa Demo Reel” includes three installments: “Taco Rice,” “A Protest in Three Acts,” and “Protest Chess,” and allows audiences a window into Onoda Power’s creative process as she creates a play about imperialism, colonialism, militarization and connecting across differences. Prof. Soyica Colbert, Idol Family Professor and Interim Dean at Georgetown College, who is also professor of African American Studies and Theater & Performance Studies, serves as dramaturg for the projects.
Onoda Power’s projects as director have been seen in the Washington region at Studio Theatre, Mosaic Theater, Theatre J, and Center Stage Baltimore, in addition to many productions at Georgetown University, including the world premiere of “Wind Me Up, Maria! A Go-Go Musical,” co-created with Rare Essence singer Charles “Shorty” Corleone; “War with the Newts” (adapted from Karel Čapek); “On the Origin of Species” (adapted from Charles Darwin); “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” (adapted from Michael Pollan); “Madness and Civilization” (adapted from Michel Foucault); “Trees and Ghosts” (adapted from Osamu Tezuka); and “Swimmy and Other Stories” (adapted from Leo Lionni).
FREE, register for “Okinawa Field Trip” on Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/okinawa-field-trip-tickets-145757054273
Visit the GU Department of Performing Arts website at performingarts.georgetown.edu.
NATSU ONODA POWER specializes in adapting non-dramatic texts into new works of visual theater, but sometimes also directs plays. Original works (writing/ adapting/ directing) include Thumbelina at Imagination Stage; The Lathe of Heaven at Spooky Action Theater and Georgetown; Alice in Wonderland with National Players; Wind Me Up, Maria!: A Go-go Musical at Georgetown University; Astro Boy and the God of Comics at the Studio Theater and Company One Theater, Boston. Other directing credits include Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival; Olney Theater Center; the Studio Theatre; Baltimore CenterStage; Mosaic Theater, and Theater J. She is the recipient of two Elliot Norton Awards (for Outstanding Direction and Production Design), two Helen Hayes Awards (Outstanding New Adaptation and Outstanding Set Design), as well as a DC Commission in the Arts fellowship. Onoda Power holds a Ph.D. from Northwestern University, and is the author of God of Comics: Osamu Tezuka and the Creation of Post- World War II Manga (The University Press of Mississippi, 2009). She is a Professor of Theater and Performance Studies at Georgetown University.
GU THEATER & PERFORMANCE STUDIES PROGRAM
Housed in the Davis Performing Arts Center, the Georgetown University Theater & Performance Studies Program features a nationally recognized faculty of leading scholar/artists and professional practitioners who offer a dynamic interdisciplinary major that emphasizes the interaction of artistic and analytic inquiry. The Program has rapidly attracted significant national attention for its distinctive curriculum, which integrates the political and international character of Georgetown, a commitment to social justice, and high-quality, cutting-edge production seasons, including world premieres. In 2012, Backstage selected the Program as one of the top five college theater programs outside of New York City. performingarts.georgetown.edu
DAVIS PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
Opened in November 2005 as Georgetown University’s first building designed for the arts, the Davis Performing Arts Center is the research and teaching laboratory for the Theater & Performance Studies Program and houses the administrative office of the Department of Performing Arts. Since its 2005-06 inaugural season, the Davis Center has hosted a thematically linked home season of cutting-edge productions for the Theater and Performance Studies Program, featuring cutting-edge productions committed to diversity and artistic risk-taking. We have presented numerous new works and adaptations, DC premieres, bold re-imaginings of classics, important contemporary plays, and student-devised productions.
Our mainstage productions have engaged deep collaborations with nationally renowned artists (Sojourn Theatre, Heather Raffo, The Neo-Futurists), acclaimed local companies (Synetic Theater, Spooky Action Theater, a 14-year partnership with Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater), local universities (Gallaudet University, University of Maryland), and on-campus programs such as the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics and frequent co-productions with GU’s student theater companies (including Black Theatre Ensemble, Mask and Bauble, and Nomadic Theatre).