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East Meets West at Center--and Noh Wonder : The Scene

September 30, 1989|PAMELA MARIN

Champagne and speeches at the Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa on Wednesday before a performance of Takigi Noh--a form of Japan's ancient Noh theater enacted outdoors, by firelight (takigi means firewood ) . The program, presented by UC Irvine and the consulate of Japan, was the second stop on a five-city American tour for Japan's esteemed Kita Ryu-Noh troupe. The show was staged in the Isamu Noguchi-designed "California Scenario" sculpture garden--a short hike for the 150 VIPs gathered at the Center for an hour of trans-Pacific networking (an ancient form of the business arts).

The Buzz

Cultural couping. According to the program notes, underwriters were selected not just on the basis of financial clout, but also for their ability "to improve Japanese-American communications and understanding." Event chairman David Eagle elaborated. "The way we did the underwriting side was (designed) to show respect for this event," he said. "Noh (theater) is the pinnacle of Japanese cultural perfection. It's like having a little slice of the 14th Century brought into today. We wanted everything about this program to show respect for Kita Ryu-Noh and to be equal in stature to this great cultural tradition." Which just so happens--great cultural tradition-wise--to be making a comeback in Japan.

"Takigi Noh is helping to repopularize this art form (Noh) among the younger generation in Japan," said Cora Mirikitani, recently appointed director of performing arts and film for the Japan Society in New York. Mirikitani, who is leaving her position at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Los Angeles to head East, said renewed interest in the fire-lit Noh dramas might be due to "something subliminal and alluring about the flames."

The Food

Prawns and crab claws piled under the dripping jaws of an ice sculpture dragon. Cheeses and vegetables arrayed beneath an Oriental floral arrangement. Buffet selections of beef tenderloin, breast of chicken filets, lobster in puff pastry and sui mai (Chinese dumplings).

Who Was There

Hiromoto Seki, consul general of Japan. UC Irvine Chancellor Jack W. Peltason and his wife, Suzanne. Three generations of the Sakioka family, owners of Sakioka Farms in Costa Mesa: Roy and Tomio Sakioka; their son John and his wife, Grace, and grandson George, with his wife, Stephanie. Steve Clemons, executive director of the Los Angeles-based Japan America Society of Southern California. Performing Arts Center President Thomas Kendrick and his wife, Center general manager Judith Morr. Gerald Yoshitomi, executive director of Los Angeles' Japanese American Cultural and Community Center. Toeko and Hiroshi Sumiyama, president of the Hitachi Chemical Research Center under construction at UC Irvine. Hideya and Yasco Gamo, and Joe and Etsuko Price. (Chairman Eagle said that without Yasco Gamo's and Etsuko Price's knowledgeable advice on Noh traditions, he "wouldn't have dared try to pull this off. We wanted to do it in the right spirit--not just do it," Eagle said.)

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