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Gleeful Demons, Priests, and Gods 

Wednesday, Mar 5 2014

The Japanese exclamation sorya doesn't have a satisfying literal translation; it's like an expression of glee, and a very fine title for the 35th anniversary celebration of San Francisco's own Theatre of Yugen. Members of this company rigorously train in the Japanese arts of Noh, a form of musical drama dating from the 13th century, and Kyogen, the comical theater often performed between Noh acts. Over the years, the company has brought the same level of artistry, intelligence, and aesthetic inspiration to contemporary productions like Frankenstein and Norton I, the story of the first emperor of the United States. But, as fitting this cheerful occasion, Sorya! focuses on Kyogen, using minimal lighting, traditional costumes, and a simple background of pine trees called matsubame. This hour-long program includes Kaki Yamabushi, about a mountain priest who steals persimmons, and either Shimizu, a farcical tale about a servant who blames demons for his laziness, or the bittersweet and physically challenging Kawakami, about a spiteful god. Kawakami features Theatre of Yugen founder Yuriko Doi on stage with her company for the first time since 2008's Candide.

Saturdays, Sundays, 2 p.m.; Mondays, 7 p.m. Starts: March 15. Continues through March 24, 2014

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Silke Tudor

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