Puppets & Poe

- Devised Defiance -

Directed by Shannon R. Davis

Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, devised by Theatre of Yugen, enacted with post-consumer material puppets.

Be very afraid

October 3 - November 2, 2019

Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8 PM

$15 students, $35 General admission, $45 VIp (includes free drinks)

Preview on October 3: Use Code “PREVIEW” at checkout for $20 Tickets

Featuring: Ella Cooley, Alan Coyne, Shannon R. Davis, Steven Flores, Nick Ishimaru, and Jamin Jollo

Edgar Allan Poe favorite Poems and Stories presented include:

• The Bells 

• Telltale Heart 

• Annabelle Lee

• The Raven

• Fall of the House of Usher

and many more


Start with Edgar Allan Poe - the beloved master of poetry, short stories, and tales of mystery and the macabre. Dissect and remix. With a departure from Japanese Noh drama and Kyogen satire, mix with Theatre of Yugen's signature physicality, voices, words, ideas, bodies, and PUPPETS. Stir in a splash of contemporary relevance, with good old-fashioned irreverence. Bake at a macabre 666 degree heat for an hour and a half. Devised Defiance is a dish best served cold.

Poe’s macabre imagery is legendary because it combines his two most prominent themes: love and death.  Along with the theme of loneliness, Poe evokes universal human experiences. Theatre of Yugen has combed through literally all of Poe’s writings, from his poems and short stories, to random newspaper articles, and extracted and assembled the works we most wish to explore.

We bring together a troupe of unique performers - circus performers, dancers, musicians, actors, poets, writers - feasting on this portfolio.  Supped on Poe’s words but digested by our bodies - variously colored, gendered, queered, immigrated - we claim these words and recycle them to amplify our unique experiences.  The result staged the devised resulting ruminations on irreverence, loss, beauty, death, society, and politics as original performances using Theatre of Yugen’s signature physicality, further emphasized by Bread and Puppets-style full body puppetry.

The creation process reflects Yugen’s commitment to Earth responsibility.  We put every effort into creating a fantastical puppet show without buying massive quantities of foam, cardboard, or other new materials.  From sourcing our building materials through reclamation and recycling, to ecologically-minded financial practices, this ecologically-oriented philosophy reminds us it is our responsibility to be accountable to the Earth, and to hold others accountable as well.  We Reduce-Reuse-Recycle Poe’s words into a new and profound work of stagecraft.

SF Commons Studio Interview with Nick Ishimaru, Artistic director ad performer, September 13, 2019. Perfectly intriguing and macabre for the Halloween Season : "Puppets & Poe", directed by Shannon R. Davis. October 3 - November 2, 2019, THURS, FRI, SAT AT 8 PM. www.theatreofyugen.org www.facebook.com/sfyugen www.MisterWA.com

Meet the Ensemble

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ARIELLA COOLEY (Performer) is a Berkeley-based multi-disciplinary artist and educator. She is a lover of all things whimsical, make-believe, and surreal. This is her sixth production with Yugen as a sound designer; her first as a performer. Ariella was awarded a TBA for Outstanding Sound Design in 2017 for her work on The Winter's Tale (Ragged Wing Ensemble).


ALAN COYNE (Performer) previously appeared in SEEN / BY EVERYONE. He has also performed with Central Works, Golden Thread, We Players, and Indra's Net, and at this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe with Adrian Deane in 2ELFth NIGHT. You can see him next in Custom Made's CLOUD 9 or in BLACK COMEDY at the Douglas Morrisson Theatre.

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SHANNON R. DAVIS (Performer, Director) is a Bay Area-based Director, Actor, and Educator. She is a proud descendant of the Potawatomi, Ojibwe, and Sami people; originally from Wisconsin. MFA in Directing/Acting from UW-Madison. Studied with the Moscow Art Theatre USA. 2018 Phil Killian Directing Fellow at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Directing (selected): The Rez Sisters (New Native Theatre); Helen (Theatre of Yugen); Othello (associate director, American Repertory Theatre); Othello (assistant director, Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Manahatta (assistant director, Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Adulting for Beginners (Musical Café/Ashby Stage); Religomania (Exit Theatre/San Francisco Fringe Festival); Drama, Trauma, Dance-o-rama,Mirrors, Smoke & Getting Woke!, & Monsters & Wild Things (Brava Theater Center); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (San Anselmo Playhouse); Death of a Mime (PianoFight); Hotel Morocco (Salvage Vanguard Theater/Echo Players); The Lady Onstage (assistant director, Playwrights Foundation). Water is Life (Facebook Research); Shakesbot (Microsoft Research); Helen, Am I Blue?,& An Evening of Poe (University Theatre University of Wisconsin-Madison); The Rover (assistant director, Shotgun Players). Teaching (selected): UW-Madison; Berkeley Repertory Theatre; International School of Asia Karuizawa, Japan; BACT. Acting (selected): Henry De la Beche and Cuvier in The Excavation of Mary Anning (Ashland New Play Festival); Scrooge in A Noh Christmas Carol (Theatre of Yugen); Mary McVicker in The Prison Where I Live (Forward Theatre Co.); Mrs. Cratchit in A Christmas Carol (CTM); Ophelia in Hamlet (City Theatre); Lady Anne in Richard III (Mitchell Theatre, UWM); Nyssa Aurora in Sleeping Beauty (Vortex Rep); Bunny in The Desk Set. (UWW).

STEVEN FLORES (Performer, Puppet Master) is a Bi-coastal actor, originally from California. He is a descendant of the Comanche & Chicano bloodlines. He most recently performed as John in Those Women’s Withchunt, Menelaus in Helen at Theatre of Yugen and Seketemaqua/Luke in the world premiere of Manahatta at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (as well as their u/s to Cassio in Othello). After Poe, Steven will be joining Yale Repertory Theatre for their version of Manahatta. Other credits: Last of the Caucasians (The Barrow Group Theater Company, NY) Delusion: The Blood Rite (Haunted Play), Jakubei in A Noh Christmas Carol (T. of Y.). TV/Film: The Monster Project, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Education: Herbert Berghof Studio, NY

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NICK ISHIMARU (Performer, Artistic Director) has trained in noh and kyōgen with Theatre of Yugen for over seven years and has appeared in numerous performances with Theatre of Yugen around the USA, including Minor Cycle (2012), This Lingering Life (2014) and Mystical Abyss (Denver 2015), and a plethora of kyōgen performances.  Ishimaru has also studied kabuki, jingju (Beijing Opera), and nihon buyo (traditional Japanese dance).  He received a BA in Performing Arts from Colorado State University (2005), where he directed a kabuki adaptation of Macbeth, and a Masters in Drama from San Francisco State University, (2009). During his time as Artistic Director of Theatre of Yugen, he has directed several productions including The Red Demon (2016), A Noh Christmas Carol (2017, 2018), and Seen/By Everyone (2018).  His work explores a combination of Western and traditional Asian performance techniques for original creations, along with work in conventional musical theatre and Shakespeare.

JAMIN JOLLO (Performer) holds a BFA from Southern Oregon University and trained in mime and neoclassical clown under James Donlon. He’s been seen in James Peck’s The Carnival of Animals and many of his solo mime works including “Paper Home,” “The Juggler,” and “Breakfast” have played in circuses and theaters in Oregon.

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