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Charisse Loriaux and Alexander M. Lydon in '410[GONE]' by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig at Crowded Fire Theater. (Photo by Pak Han)

Into the Underworld with ‘410[GONE]’

In Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s ‘410[GONE]’ at Crowded Fire Theater, the Land of the Dead is rendered with Beijing opera and Dance Dance Revolution.

Evren Odcikin (Photo by Cheshire Isaacs)
Evren Odcikin (Photo by Cheshire Isaacs)

Evren Odcikin, DIRECTION AND SET DESIGN: 410[GONE], by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, is a juxtaposition of opposites—it’s old/new, Land of the Living/Land of the Dead, comedy/tragedy, Beijing Opera/Dance Dance Revolution. About a week after I got the gig, a dance video appeared on my Facebook newsfeed called “Fantasy Slut,” by choreographer Miguel Zarate. It had a very sexualized, forward, don’t-give-a-shit kind of attitude, which seemed perfect for the show. The Land of the Dead is located under a mountain, it’s loud, it’s bright, with phones going off and lights flashing. The Land of the Living, located above the screen, was in grays and blues, and was visually less crisp.

The photo captures one of the moments when the character Seventeen gets a part of his memory back, which we called the Memory Dumps. Those moments of forgetting, remembering and rebirth, we staged on the Dance Dance Revolution machine that we built. Lighting designer Stephanie Buchner spent an insane six hours programming all the DDR steps on that machine, to time it perfectly with the video and the actors’ movements. You get a great sense of fun, humor and attitude in these photos, but the thing about the play that’s special to me is the beating heart in the middle of it—it’s a horrible tragedy packaged within this really fun world.

Keiko Carreiro
Keiko Carreiro

Keiko Shimosato Carreiro, COSTUME DESIGN: I’ve designed shows with the Monkey King and Guan Yin [pictured above] in a classic Chinese look. For 410[GONE], we wanted references to the contemporary world. Frances wrote that Guan Yin’s exterior should be the traditional Goddess of Mercy, draped in white, and underneath was a bondage outfit. It was a pretense of looking compassionate—the patent leather and pointy heels was who she really was. Guan Yin’s traditionally shaped headdress had a solar-powered, smiling Buddha with a bobbling head. I went to Chinatown for it, since the show had a pan-Asian look and Chinatown’s the pan-Asian supermarket!

I put the Monkey King in shorts with suspenders to make him like a large kid, and a Donkey Kong T-shirt. Evren also wanted a scaled-down version of Beijing Opera makeup. As a child, the gods were very real personas to me. So it was fun, and almost a relief, to dress them irreverently, like flawed people.

Christopher James Cortez in '410[GONE]' by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig at Crowded Fire Theater. (Photo by Pak Han)
Christopher James Cortez in ‘410[GONE]’ by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig at Crowded Fire Theater. (Photo by Pak Han)
410[GONE] by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig ran at San Francisco’s Crowded Fire Theater June 6–29, with direction and scenic design by Evren Odcikin. The production featured fight choreography by Carla Pantoja, lighting design by Stephanie Buchner, costume design by Keiko Shimosato Carreiro, sound design by Sara Huddleston, props design by Devon LaBelle, stage management by Mina Sohaa Smith, technical direction by Geoffrey Nolan, video design by Wesley Cabral, production management by Stephanie Alyson Henderson and animation by Goose Manriquez.

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