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THE COURTESAN A New Play by Dmae Roberts Premieres in January

In 2012, Dmae Roberts visited the Van Gogh museum and saw all these Japanese prints. She was surprised they to find the prints included in the museum. Then Roberts realized these paintings were Van Gogh's copies of Japanese wood-block prints. Many artists copied these prints including Manet, Degas and Monet. Japanese artwork really gave birth to Impressionism. She couldn't get the image of one painting, The Courtesan, out of her head. She imagined the subject of the painting talking to the artist. Then Roberts thought about global influences of art and cultures and how art can help give us hope even through devastation.

Roberts chose nine Japanese prints that inspired Van Gogh and wrote scenes with two different story lines across time: one of an artist and his work coming to life and the other set at the site of an environmental disaster in modern-day China when all that's left are two scientists and a building full of artwork. The two stories are connect through time and place with an eternal longing for love, connection and inspiration to go on living.

Roberts was awarded an individual artist grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council and gathered the musical talents of UNIT SOUZOU and three gifted actors Samson Syharath, Ken Yoshikawa and Elaine Low (who has been in five of my prior plays). I've been writing scenes based on nine of the original Japanese prints Van Gogh and other artists copied. Rehearsals have begun for a reading performance with movement,projections, dance and music as well as slides of the paintings, my sound and lighting by Xander Atwood.

The Courtesan will be 75-minute staged reading at the intimate New Expressive Works on Jan. 27th at 7:30pm and Jan. 28th at 2pm & 7:30pm.

This new work signals a return for Roberts to playwriting after a 14 year pause.


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