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‘Driven’ @ Theater Rhino - David Hirata: ‘The Jap Box’ - Oaktown Jazz Workshops 25th Anniversary

Vince Thomas

This week on Open Air, KALW’s radio magazine for the Bay Area performing arts, guest host Renée Kemp will be talking to director Ely Sonny Orquiza, actor Alan Quismorio (pictured, right), and Theater Rhino staff member Joe Tally, about the world premiere production of Driven, by local playwright Boni Alvarez. Performances are at Theater Rhino’s new Castro location (Spark Arts, 4229 18th St.), running through November 17. 

The world premiere of Driven, a heart-warming comedy of Filipino-Americans in the Bay Area, marks the beginning of Theater Rhino's season of producing plays in the Castro, a landmark event for SF’s world famous LGBT neighborhood. There has never before been a theatre company in the Castro.

Also, a conversation with Japanese American magician David Hirata about his solo show at The Marsh in Berkeley, titled The Jap Box, in which he explores the mysteries and stories of Japanese master magician Namigoro Sumidagawa, who, in 1866 became the first Japanese citizen in over 200 years to receive a passport to leave the country. 

As part of the ‘Imperial Japanese Troupe’, Sumidagawa dazzled audiences across Victorian America with his exotic stage magic, and he became a media celebrity. By the time he returned home, his prize trick had been appropriated by American magicians in yellowface and rechristened as the ‘Jap Box.’ 

In The Jap Box, which is part theatrical story, part magic show, Hirata explores illusions of race and identity through the magic of two cultures. Performances are at The Marsh Berkeley through December 1.

Plus, from the Oaktown Jazz Workshops (OJW), we talk with executive director, composer and jazz bassist Ravi Abcarian, and with OJW’s youth mentor (and alumnus) Jordon Dabney, about the organization’s 25th anniversary celebration and benefit concert on November 12 (8pm), at Yoshi’s (510 Embarcadero West) in Oakland. 

This concert features special guest performances by OJW instructor and jazz emissary, saxophonist Richard Howell; pianist Kev Choice; seven-time Grammy nominated percussionist John Santos; pianist Marco Diaz; plus a number of OJW Alumni, and Oaktown Jazz Workshops’ Youth Performance Ensemble. 

Open Air with guest host Renée Kemp, heard live on Thursday, October 31 at 1pm. Listen now or anytime...