The Fermentation Lab:
A Tasting And Performance


"The Fermentation Lab: A Tasting And Performance" imagines a new kind of theatrical experience.

Once you share a meal with someone, you consume the same organisms and forever have something in common.

With generous support from the National Endowment of the Arts, Theatre of Yugen in cooperation with the U.S./Japan Cultural Trade Network has spent the past year bringing together artists from a wide range of fields from microbiology to modern dance in a project titled "The Fermentation Lab." 

The Lab is inspired by the shared aesthetics between skilled performers and master chefs.  Is the beauty of food not an art in and of itself?  Like the process of fermentation, the Lab is powered by the esoteric and unseen microbial world of chemical transformation.  In that unseen, internal world, lingers the sublime.  Where there is the sublime, there is yugen.  

Participants initially gathered in December of 2016, in a small communal gathering with AEDAN Team Captain Mariko Grady to make and prepare miso, which has been fermenting all year long.  From that moment of shared inspiration, the artists branched off and grew in their own directions, ruminating on everything from the chemical processes involved in transforming one substance into another, to methods for imparting knowledge of science and nutrition to the community, to pondering how to express tastes through sound and movement.

September 16th, 2017, 7 PM

marks the first public exhibition of these combined efforts.

Our honored guests will be served visual and aural delights created by master performers Shoko Hikage and the sister duo Sharp and Fine. Paired with these are petite culinary delights created by Eri Shimizu of AEDAN Fermented Foods, which serve as the inspiration for each moment, creating a total sensory experience that combines the aesthetics of food and performance.  

$40 General Admission gets you a reservation.  $50 VIP tickets get you free drinks from Theatre of Yugen's well-stocked concessions all night.  $20 Student tickets are available as well with a photo ID.  And as a special treat, AEDAN Fermented Foods is selling their unique bento boxes for $15!  Reserve yours through the box office!

Moving beyond mere dinner theatre, The Lab will use the opportunity to sit and eat together to create a new understanding of community and shared experience for theatre-goers.

The Artists

Shannon Kurashige co-founded S&F in 2011. She has also performed with Liss Fain Dance since joining the company in 2010, and previously worked with Christian Burns (burnsWORK), Alex Ketley (The Foundry), and Amy Seiwert. Shannon attended the North Carolina School of the Arts, where she studied under Melissa Hayden, and graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a BFA in Dance Performance and a minor in biology. She also received extensive training at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance under the tutelage of Summer Lee Rhatigan. Shannon is also an artist and freelance graphic designer.

Megan Kurashige co-founded SHARP & FINE (S&F) in 2011. She also performs with Liss Fain Dance, where she has been a company member since 2010. She has previously worked with choreographers Christian Burns (burnsWORK), Alex Ketley (The Foundry), and Amy Seiwert, and performed with Ballet Pacifica and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal. She studied at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance under the direction of Summer Lee Rhatigan and the Academy of Ballet under the direction of Richard Gibson. She is also a writer. Her short fiction has appeared in various magazines and anthologies and she is a 2008 graduate of the Clarion Writers' Workshop at UCSD.

Shoko Hikage is a koto (Japanese zither) player who resides in the San Francisco, where she continues to pursue her music. Her first teacher was Chizuga Kimura of the Ikuta-ryu Sokyoku Seigen Kai in Akita Prefecture, Japan. From 1985, she received special training from the Iemoto (Grand Master) Seiga Adachi. In 1988, Hikage graduated from Takasaki College with a major in koto music. She was then accepted as a special research student at the Sawai Koto Institute under Tadao and Kazue Sawai.

Eri Shimizu is Event & Catering Manager at AEDAN Fermented Foods. She also works with Delica at Ferry Building Market Place and Bon nene in Mission, developing their menu. Eri graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 2016. She is a certified International Health Food Master in Traditional Chinese Medicinal Cuisine, a holistic cooking theory based on the Eastern Yin-Yan philosophy, and organizes educational workshops. She is also a food and travel writer for Japanese magazines.

Mariko Grady performed as a lead actress and voice artist of Pappa TARAHUMARA, a performance company based in Tokyo, for 30 years. She moved to San Francisco in 2000. Immediately after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, Mariko started to sell her home-made fermented foods to raise funds for the victims. Mariko joined the incubator kitchen program at La Cocina in May 2012 and founded AEDAN Fermented Foods. She frequently conducts various educational workshops about her products.


Production Team

Kyoko Yoshida (Production Manger), director and founder of U.S./Japan Cultural Trade Network (CTN), has served the performing arts field for over 30 years as a presenter, producer and consultant, with a focus on artistic and cultural exchange between the U.S. and Japan.  Since 2011, she has been working with National Performance Network and Visual Artists Network as a staff consultant for its Japan program. Based in San Francisco since 2007, she also designs and manages selected programs with Theatre of Yugen.

Nick Ishimaru (Director) was trained originally as a musical theatre performer and started exploring Japanese theatre while studying at Colorado State University (BA, 2005), where he directed a kabuki adaptation of Macbeth. He went on to study at San Francisco State University, (MA, 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, has studied kabuki and 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.