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PCC presents U.S. premiere of Dark Horse Comics’ ‘Usagi Yojimbo’ by Stan Sakai
Photos and Story by Karen Kane
Portland Community College’s Theatre Arts Program is presenting the North American premiere of a favorite son. “Usagi Yojimbo” by Stan Sakai and adapted for the stage by Stewart Melton will open Friday, Nov. 6 in the Sylvania Campus Performing Arts Theater for a six-day run. The 90-minute epic play runs from Nov. 6-15, and is appropriate for ages seven and older.
Set in rural 16th century Japan, where danger lurks everywhere and feudal lords fight for power, Usagi Miyomoto is a hero-worshiping rabbit who yearns to become a Samurai. Created by Sakai in 1984, “Usagi Yojimbo” is featured in a comic book series now published by Milwaukie, Oregon-based Dark Horse Comics.
The play follows Usagi, a young rabbit who must leave his mother Atsuko and abandon his friends in pursuit of one ambition: to become a great Samurai warrior. Trained by a maverick sensei – the master swordsman Katsuichi – an aging lion and teacher of the warrior’s code known as Bushido – Usagi learns that the way of the samurai is one of peace and perfection – not just masterful swordsmanship. But as war engulfs the land, he must make a choice that will test his loyalty, honor, and his dearest friends Mariko and Kenichi.
Audience members are invited to visit author and artist Sakai on opening night, Friday Nov. 6. A Japanese American National Museum Cultural Ambassador Award winner, Sakai will sign copies of his comics and other books. “Usagi Yojimbo,” which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, has been featured in the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and won numerous accolades, including three Eisner Awards and the Parents’ Choice Award.
Usagi first opened last year at London’s Southwark Playhouse. The PCC production, which features movement by dance instructor Heidi Dyer and costumes by guest artist Diane Trapp, is the first in North America.
Tickets are $10 general admission and $8 for students, seniors and veterans. Tickets can be purchased online, at the PCC box office one hour before curtain time, and in the Sylvania Bookstore.
- 7 p.m., Friday Nov. 6.
- 2 p.m., Saturday Nov. 7.
- 11 a.m., Thursday Nov. 12.
- 7 p.m., Friday Nov. 13.
- 7 p.m., Saturday Nov. 14 (sign language interpretation available).
- 1 p.m., Sunday Nov. 15.