Miss Tanaka

Premiere 21 February, 2001
Venue Merlyn Theatre, CUB Malthouse

painting of a girl in traditional Japanese dress holding a turtle on a beach with printed show credits below

Miss Tanaka program cover
Click image to enlarge

MISS TANAKA was written by John Romeril whose interest in and experience of Asian-Australian cross cultural relationships has created many theatrical works on the subject since his early, and now classic play, The Floating World (1974)

John was experienced in writing puppetry-based works, including Handspan Theatre's successful production for young audiences The Reading Boy (1991), and the original concept was for MISS TANAKA to be a puppetry-based work. The idea for the play was proposed by Noriko Nishimoto from Spare Parts Puppet Theatre in Western Australia. When the work was eventually taken on by Handspan and Playbox, Noriko joined the Melbourne-based creative team.

Based on a story by Xavier Herbert of the brawl between rival pearl fishers, one Japanese and one Malay, the play is set in Broome in north-western Australia in 1939. Miss Tanaka is beautiful and mysterious and both pearlers fall in love with her in a folk tale of mistaken identity.

The cast of Malay, Japanese, Aboriginal and Anglo-Australian performers were actors, dancers and puppeeters, accompanied by Taiko drumming musicians.

The co-production was directed by David Bell, Artistic Director at Handspan with Designer, Greg Clarke and Composer, Darrin Verhagen for a season at the CUB Malthouse (Playbox's home) in Melbourne in 2001.

MISS TANAKA was the last new work produced by Handspan.

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Creative team
Original concept Noriko Nishimoto
Writer John Romeril
Script consultant David Bell
Dramaturg Louise Gough
Director David Bell
Composer Darrin Verhagen
Puppetry consultant Noriko Nishimoto
Designer Greg Clarke
Puppet designer Rob Matson
Lighting designer David Walters
Costume designer Greg Clarke
Choreographer Andris Toppe

Kazuhiko Bradley Byquar
Mr Tanaka Tam Phan
Mott Jeremy Stanford
Hanif Tony Yap
Sakamoto Yumi Umiumare
Puppeteers Megan Cameron
Heather Monk
Musicians Junko Sakamoto
Toshi Sakamoto
Production team
Stage manager Natasha Marich

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