Be drawn into the faraway world of The Women of Ishikawa. It is a selection of strange, hilarious, and tragic folk stories from the mountains of Ishikawa, brought over from Japan and performed by Doubtful Sound. The show is in a mix of Kaga-ben (the local dialect) and English, and the stories are sprinkled with traditional folk songs from the SOAS Min’yo Group. The tales performed in Japanese have English subtitles.
The performance at the Daiwa Foundation included a ghost who nurses babies, girls falling asleep on the shoulder of a monk, a collapsing cave, a mochi-fight, a potato digger, uncomfortably welcoming guests, a snake swordsmith, the queen of thieves, a lord who tells terrible jokes, an elderly lady under the floor, a young woman murdered by the sun, and a basket of bees. The show was followed by a Q&A session, providing a chance to ask the director, dramaturg, and musicians about the tales and songs.
About the contributors
Doubtful Sound is a bilingual theatre company who research, translate, and perform traditional stories and folktales from far flung areas of Japan. The group was formed in Tokyo in 2012 and have since performed the tales in ancient temples, Japanese gardens, pubs, over rivers, at festivals, and occasionally in theatres. Scenes are performed in Japanese and English with the Japanese scenes often in the local dialect of the area.
SOAS Min’yo Group
The SOAS Min’yo Group are a largely amateur bunch of Japanese folk song (min’yo) devotees who meet regularly at SOAS, University of London, to practice singing, instruments and some dancing. Launched in 2012 by David Hughes, a Japanese music specialist at SOAS, its members are of various nationalities, including Japanese. The Group have performed at many events around the UK and abroad.