La Jolla Playhouse Presents 'after the quake' July 24

The La Jolla Playhouse has announced the upcoming production of after the quake, a presentation with the Berkeley Repertory Theatre and a Steppenwolf Theatre production and directed by Frank Galati, beginning previews on July 24 and running through August 26.

In 1995, Haruki Murakami, one of Japan's most highly-regarded novelists and an international success, returned to his hometown of Kobe after a disastrous earthquake nearly destroyed the entire city. Inspired by this tragedy, Murakami penned after the quake, a collection of short stories, each of which measures the hidden devastation of people after a natural disaster.

Director and adaptor Galati (adaptor/director of the 1991 Tony Award-winning The Grapes of Wrath and director of the Tony Award-winning Ragtime and The Glass Menagerie) has woven two of Murakami's stories into a truly unique theatrical experience, featuring live cello and koto music. His adaptation of after the quake evokes the deepest, most fundamental questions in life: to what extent do we have the ability to ensure our own survival? And can anything be more devastating than the realization that pure randomness or an Act of God can end life?

after the quake premiered in October 2005 at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre, where Galati has been an ensemble member since 1987. TimeOut Chicago proclaimed, "after the quake is rare: a comfortable play to watch but a haunting one to remember." And The New York Times hailed it as "an elegant, economic, gently hypnotic piece of theatre." 

Galati comments, "Murakami is one of the most dazzling and mysterious writers of fiction in our contemporary world.  His vision is at once comic and disturbing.  His sense of language is clean, precise and deeply poetic."

Murakami is the author of over a dozen novels, including The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Sputnik Sweetheart and Kafka on the Shore.  His work has been translated into 34 languages, and has received numerous awards, including the Noma Literary Award, Kuwabara Takeo Academic Award and Yomiuri Literary Prize.

La Jolla audiences last experienced the Galati with his adaptation of Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath in 1989, which won Tony Awards for Best Play and Best Direction in 1990.

The La Jolla Playhouse cast of after the quake includes original actors Aiko Nakasone (Sayoko), Andrew Pang (Katagiri/Takatsuki), Keong Sim (Narrator/Frog) and Hanson Tse (Junpei). Aiko Nakasone appeared in the original Broadway casts of Rent and The Rocky Horror Show, as well as the national tours of The Who's Tommy and Starlight Express.  Andrew Pang performed in the first national tour of Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Joy Luck Club at Long Wharf Theatre, Long Day's Journey into Night at New York's National Asian-American Theatre Company and in the premiere of Warren Leight's No Foreigners Beyond this Point. A native Chicagoan, Keong Sim previously appeared in Radiant Baby at the Public Theater, Anything Goes at Papermill Playhouse, and guest-starred on the television series "Rescue Me," "Law & Order" and "E.R."  Hanson Tse has previously appeared in Romeo and Juliet at Public/NYSF and in the short film "Beach Closed in Winter."  Two child actors, alternating the role of Sala, are still to be cast.

Live cello and koto music will accompany the production, performed by the original musicians from Steppenwolf's world premiere. Cellist Jason McDermott has worked with quake sound designers Andre Pluess and Ben Sussman in the About Face musical Whitman.  McDermott's music has been heard in a number of theatre productions, including Alice (Lookinglass Theatre) and Silk (Goodman Theatre).  Jeff Wichman has played the koto for nearly 20 years.  He has performed at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center and Tokyo's Museum of Contemporary Art.

after the quake will be presented at the Mandell Weiss Forum at La Jolla Playhouse, located at 2910 La Jolla Village Drive.  Ticket prices range from $28 to $60 and can be purchased by calling 858-550-1010, online at or at the theatre box office.

Photo (top) Haruki Murakami; (bottom) Frank Galati.

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