Haru no Yugen Kai

- Kyogen in the Spring -

Theatre of Yugen presents its signature traditional Japanese comedies in English

This spring we present two plays. One, Setsubun (The Eve of Spring), celebrates the annual Japanese festival to welcome in spring by scattering beans to chase away misfortune.  She is left home alone to prepare the traditional beans when she receives a surprise visit from a demon from the Isle of Horai, the island of treasures.  He quickly falls in love with the beautiful woman and tries to seduce her with funny songs and dances from the traditional kyogen repertoire, along with some very lascivious innuendoes.  The play ends with the ceremonial shouting “Fuku wa uchi!  Oni wa soto!” - “In with fortune!  Out with demons!”

The other, Kakiyamabushi (Persimmons and the Mountain Priest), is a classic story of a brash mountain priest who decides to slake his thirst on juicy, juicy stolen persimmons.  He is discovered by the local farmer, who decides to have some fun by “mistaking” the yamabushi for various kinds of animals.  A demonstration of various animal noises and gestures makes this play a true delight.

Directed by Yuriko Doi and Lluis Valls



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Lluis Valls

Lluís Valls (Demon in Setsubun) acts, directs, and writes for the theatre. He has studied Noh with Richard Emmert, Akira Matsui, and Kinue Oshima (Kita school), Kyogen with Yukio Ishida and Yuriko Doi (Izumi school), and Kotsuzumi Noh drum with Mitsuo Kama (Ko school), as well as training in butoh, Suzuki method, and clowning. A graduate of SFSU, Mr. Valls has been a disciple of founder Yuriko Doi since 1993 and served as Theatre of Yugen’s Joint Artistic Director with Jubilith Moore and Libby Zilber from 2002 - 2008. He has worked on dozens of productions at Theatre of Yugen, including Blood Wine, Blood Wedding, (1997), Norton, I (2003), Frankenstein (2003, 2004), The Old Man and The Sea (2005), Moon of the Scarlet Plums (2003, Japan 2005), The Cycle Plays (07/07/07), Mystical Abyss (2012, Denver 2015), Erik Ehn’s Cordelia (2011, NY's La MAMA 2012), Emmett Till, a river (2013), This Lingering Life (2014), and The Red Demon (2016).

Photo by Lisa Keating

Photo by Lisa Keating

Nick Ishimaru

Nick Ishimaru (Woman in Setsubun) 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). His work explores a combination of Western and traditional Asian performance techniques for original creations, along with work in conventional musical theatre and Shakespeare. Ishimaru has trained in noh and kyōgen with Theatre of Yugen for over seven years, and has studied kabuki, jingju (Beijing Opera), and nihon buyo (traditional Japanese dance) at the University of Hawaii. He has presented his work at the Association for Asian Performance international conference, and taught master classes on noh and kyōgen at both the high school and collegiate level.

In October 2016, he opened his debut as Theatre of Yugen’s Artistic Director, The Red Demon by Noda Hideki. Since then he has directed May Mayhem (2017,) Power Plays (2018), and A Noh Christmas Carol (2017 and 2018). He performs regularly in the Theatre of Yugen’s traditional repertoire as well.

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Fenner (Yamabushi in Kakiyamabushi) is a multi-disciplinary artist who enjoys working in ensemble theater. They have appeared on stage with Theatre of Yugen in Power Plays (2018), and as Master of the House in Busu, and with Ragged Wing Ensemble, Naked Empire Bouffon and Marzipanik theater co. Other artistic achievements include pedaling a play across the United States with Agile Rascal bicycle Touring Theater and producing/directing Picasso’s fever dream play Desire Caught by the Tail.


Meryn Macdougall

Meryn MacDougall (Farmer in Kakiyamabushi) is a Bay Area actress working in the stage, film, voice over, and print fields. She is thrilled to be working with Yugen once again. She wants to thank Nick and the Yugen community for the wonderful training and opportunities they have given her. She would also like to thank her husband and puppy for all the support. www.merynmacdougall.com

Yuriko Doi


Yuriko Doi was born in Tokyo and introduced to the Japanese traditional theater of Noh and Kyogen at an early age. She has earned M.A.s in Drama from Waseda University in Tokyo and from San Francisco State University. She has studied with the most esteemed masters of Kyogen and Noh: Mansaku Nomura, Shiro Nomura and Yukio Ishida in Japan, and in December 2013, she joined Japanese Kyogen Master Yukio Ishida on stage in Tokyo to portray the blind husband in Kawakami (The Kawakami Headwaters), a role she revised in Theatre of Yugen’s SORYA! in 2014.

Ms. Doi founded Theatre of Yugen in San Francisco in 1978 where she has served as its Artistic Director, a teacher and a producer of classical, contemporary and original fusion works of Japanese theater. She has directed many classical Kyogen comedies such as Boshibari, Kakiyamabushi, and Busu. Ms. Doi has worked with playwrights Carol Sorgenfrei, John O’Keefe and Erik Ehn in creating new works such as Blood Wine, Blood Wedding, Crazy Horse, and Moon of the Scarlet Plums, which in 2005 was invited by the Aichi World Expo to perform in Japan, and afterward made a U.S. national tour. She most recently directed Mystical Abyss in September 2012 which will tour to Denver and Fort Collins in September, 2015. Ms. Doi has been a recipient of the CAC individual artist in residency, the NEA Folk Arts Fellowship, the NEA Expansion Arts, the Peninsula Foundation Grant for Individual Artist, Culture Award of Japan, US Citizen Association (Nichi Bei kai) and the Bay Area Theater Critics Circle Outstanding Achievement Award in direction (1994) and choreography (2001).

In 2004, Ms. Doi was honored when Theatre of Yugen was recognized by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs for “excellence in the pursuit of a more improved understanding of Japan, its culture and its people.”