Poro Oyna: The Myth of the Ainu

PORO OYNA is a multidisciplinary shadow theatre work bringing the mythology of the Aynu (also commonly spelled as “Ainu”) tribe of Hokkaido, Japan, to life on stage, illuminating the power of this little known indigenous culture from the past and present. Created by shadow master Larry Reed in collaboration with musician OKI, the leading torchbearer of the Aynu culture; and Tetsuro Koyano, a shadow theatre artist in Tokyo, the project will tell the legend of Ainu Rakkur, the beloved demi-god, who rescues the Sun Goddess from the evil Monster, restoring the order in the land of humans.  Other collaborators include: MAREWREW, a 4-woman chorus group specializing traditional Aynu songs and members of Urotsutenoyako Bayangans, a shadow theatre company based in Tokyo.

PORO OYNA introduced five master Ainu musicians, who are also innovators in their field, to the US audiences and provide a platform to further their cause of promoting their culture in a wider context. The production also provided a rare chance for audiences to experience the centuries-old sacred world of the Aynus as well as the complexity of Japanese cultural/social tapestry, enriching their cultural lives.

PORO OYNA was developed over the last 3-years in Hokkaido and Tokyo. 

Performed on Dec.1, 2012 at Shiraoi Chuo Kouminkan, Shiraoi town, Hokkaido  
Nov.27, 2012 - Nagareyama City Hall, Nagareyama, Chiba
Nov 24 & 25, 2012 - Asahi Art Square, Tokyo
Dec 14, 2011 - Asahi Art Square, Tokyo (Work-in-Progress Presentation)

US Premiere January 10 & 11, 2014 at Dartmouth College, NH

January 15 – 19, 2014 at Fort Mason Center, San Francisco

The Story: A long long time ago, there lived Aynu Rakkur, a demigod, by the sacred pond, Kaikaiunt in the northern land of Aynu.  One day, the Evil Monster (with a name so long and vile nobody can pronounce) kidnaps the Sun Goddess when she was just emerging from the horizon.  Numerous Kamuys (gods) have gone to rescue her in vain. Being at loss, kamuys come to Ainu Rakkur for help.  Aynu Rakkur prepares for a battle, flies out to the Evil Monster’s castle on the sacred vehicle, Kamuy Shintur...