“Hide Your Fires: Butoh Lady Macbeth” Burns Fiercely

By Ernest Kearney — A chair and a twisted statue are all that is on the stage as the audience shuffles in the dimness to find and settle into their seats for Hide Your Fires: Butoh Lady Macbeth.

The customary pre-show buzz of conversation that swarms over the venue fades and then evaporates as one by one those in the audience begin to wonder if they’ve actually seen the statue move.

Last year Yokko and her New York based company Ren Gyo Soh impressed all who saw her Butoh Medea based on the Greek tragedy by Euripides.

This year’s offering, on stage at the The Lounge Theatre  for HFF19, is somewhat less successful but staggeringly more ambitious.

In selecting Lady Macbeth and deciding to present the character laden with what little is known of the historical personality, Yokko shoulders an impressive burden.

First and foremost, Lady Macbeth, unlike Medea, is a participant more acted upon than active. Medea’s furies were creatures of her own creation; the whirlwinds that lash Lady Macbeth are unleashed by the storms of others.

Little is known about Mac Bethad mac Findlaích (1005 – 1057), the historical “Macbeth,” except that his 17-year reign as King of Alba — a portion of Scotland — was mostly peaceful. There are no contemporary references to his rule being that of a “tyrant” and the earliest mention of him in the Duan Albanach (Song of the Scots) praises him as “Mac Bethad the renowned.”

It is known that Mac Bethad was the son of Findláech, King of Moray who was killed by his nephew Gille Coemgáin in 1032. Coemgáin with 50 of his men were burned to death for the crime and Mac Bethad, who may have been the instrument of his father’s vengeance, subsequently married Coemgáin’s widow, Gruoch, the model for Lady Macbeth.

If little is known of Macbeth, less is known of his wife save that she bore him no children. Shakespeare’s only source for Macbeth was Holinshed’s Chronicles (published in 1577 & 1587) which is far from historically accurate.

With script adapted from the play by Sean Michael Welch, and Brian Rhinehart directing Yokko explores another great “anti-mother” of the theatre, one who could “bash the brain of the babe that sucks her breast.”

With her team – Deepsikha Chatterjee costume design, Jorge Olivo contributing to the sound score, lighting consultant Derek Ven Heel and movement consultant Jordan RosinYokko again achieves a visually jarring staging, a cornerstone of the Butoh style.

Where she comes into difficulty is in the effort to overlap a more construal interpretation over Shakespeare’s highly disparaging dramatic rendering; an undertaking fraught with risk.

Yokko also struggles with the language as do the majority of English speakers, but where her performance rises to its pinnacle is in her conveying the cultural conflict between the feminine and masculine roles, which has continued unabated from medieval Scotland to today.

For a fascinating performer and production:  Fringe Award-Gold Medal-The TVolution



For Complete Hollywood Fringe Festival Info:  https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/

For Show Venue and Schedule Info: http://hff19.org/4972

Hollywood Fringe Festival has officially begun with the close of PWYC Preview Week. Go to the Official Website to see what is available amongst the plethora of talent, events and shows. Return to The Tvolution throughout the month for our take. Below is our Reviewer Criteria/Guideline for judging the productions for The Tvolution Awards.


Go out and be joyful for Hollywood Fringe Fest Season has officially begun!

Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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  • Just making sure I get to read more of these in depth and thoughtful reviews.


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