Kennedy Theatre presents "The Judith of Shimoda plus Mahagonny Songspiel"

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Tracy E Robinson, (808) 956-2598
Publicity Director, Department of Theatre and Dance
Marty Myers, (808) 956-2602
Theatre Manager, Department of Theatre and Dance
Posted: Apr 21, 2010

D'Neka Patten as Okichi in the English language world  premiere of "The Judith of Shimoda"
D'Neka Patten as Okichi in the English language world premiere of "The Judith of Shimoda"

The University of Hawai‛i at Mānoa’s Department of Theatre and Dance presents the world premiere of the English language version of Bertolt Brecht’s “The Judith of Shimoda.” Translated by UH Mānoa theatre professor Markus Wessendorf and directed by fellow colleague Paul T. Mitri, this Brecht masterpiece disappeared for nearly sixty years and is now staging a comeback at Kennedy Theatre’s mainstage. A special prelude to “Judith” will be the Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s “Mahagonny Songspiel.” The “Judith/Mahagonny” double bill will be performed April 30 and May 1 at 7:30 p.m. and May 2 at 2:00 p.m. Additional dates are May 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m. and May 23 at 2:00 p.m. A free pre-show chat with Wessendorf will be held on May 1 at 7:00 p.m.

The rediscovered and restored “The Judith of Shimoda” draws on historical events that occurred after Commodore Perry opened Japan to the West in 1854. To appease the American consul who threatens to bomb the city if the Japanese refuse to negotiate a trade agreement, Japanese authorities ask Okichi, a geisha, to serve him. Brecht focuses on what happens to Okichi after she agrees to sacrifice herself for the sake of her country. Although Okichi becomes a heroine of Japanese patriotism, her real life is ruined: her marriage breaks up, she is called a “foreign whore,” and she dies impoverished and an alcoholic. This timely tale examines the ways society builds up and tears down its heroes.

“We put the heroine on a pedestal, literally, by having her up in the air,” explained Mitri, referring to the unique aerial dance techniques used throughout the production. “Okichi (played by D’Neka Patten) climbs the silks, putting her "above" the rest of society and when she comes crashing down, it is a literal fall from grace for the character,” he added.

As a special prelude to “The Judith of Shimoda,” Henry Akina, Artistic Director of the Hawaiʻi Opera Theatre, will direct “Mahagonny Songspiel” sometimes called “The Little Mahagonny,” a production of the Mae Z. Orvis Opera Studio of Hawaiʻi Opera Theatre. Live musical accompaniment will be provided by students from the Music Department at UHM. Though just a glimpse of the full-length opera by librettist Brecht and composer Kurt Weill “The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny,” the Songspiel inhabits the same dystopian world ruled by boxing, eating, sex and money— and characters singing the famous “Alabama Song.” “Mahagonny is Brecht and Weill's vision of a city where everything is possible,” said Akina. “The city has been variously compared to Las Vegas, Brazilia, New York, and Sydney, but it could be anywhere that the disenfranchised of the world gather.” 

UH Mānoa MFA graduate students Chesley Cannon - set designer,  Amy Schrag - costume designer and David Gerke - lighting designer are the behind-the-scenes masterminds responsible for the various design elements that add to the theatrics and depth of the production.

Tickets for “The Judith of Shimoda/Mahagonny” are on sale now at, outlets and by phone at 944-2697. Tickets will be available at the Kennedy Theatre Box Office beginning April 26. Purchases may be made at the Kennedy Theatre Box Office Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and at the entrance one hour before the performance. Prices are $20 regular; $18 seniors, military, UH faculty/staff; $12 students; $5 UH Mānoa students with a validated spring 2010 UH Mānoa photo ID. UH Mānoa students may also purchase buy-one-get-one-free tickets on April 30 with validated UH Mānoa photo ID. Ticket prices include all service fees. For more information or disability access, call the Kennedy Theatre Box Office at 956-7655.

“The Judith of Shimoda/Mahagonny Songspiel” is the first event in a month-long series of events related to Bertolt Brecht being held in conjunction with the 13th Symposium of the International Brecht Society on 'Brecht in/and Asia' at UH Mānoa from May 19-23. Other theatre events in Honolulu include “The Threepenny Opera” at Army Community Theatre, May 13 – 29; “The Hilo Massacre” at Kumu Kahua Theatre, May 20 – June 20; “Mor is Mor” by the Red Rockets in the Earle Ernst Lab Theatre May 19 and 20; and “German Cabaret Songs” at Orvis Auditorium on May 20. For more information on the Brecht Conference and other Brecht events in Honolulu visit:

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