Two plays open at Willamette April 14

by Erin Dahl ,

Willamette University’s latest theatrical production gives audiences the rare opportunity to enjoy an English-language production of Japanese Noh plays, which integrate masks, costumes and dance.

Opening April 14, the program of two separate plays presents a mediation on attachment, love and art.

“The Feathered Mantle” relates the story of a celestial maiden who comes to Earth. During her visit, she provides a fisherman with an opportunity to practice compassion and give the art of performance to the mortal realm. “The Feathered Mantle” is among the most-performed Japanese Noh plays. 

“The Weaver and the Dress” is a new work, in traditional Noh-theatre style, by poet Judy Halebsky. It’s about an imagined interaction between the spirit of artist Frida Kahlo, in the guise of a weaver, and her husband, renowned painter Diego Rivera. The two explore concerns about their relationships with their art and each other.   

“This is a special and rare opportunity to see a Noh production outside of Japan and in English,” says Guest Director Jubilith Moore. “It is just downright unique. Audience members will be introduced to a beautiful, masked lyric drama unlike anything they have ever seen.”

Moore says viewers will experience layer upon layer of beauty, from the text and music to the costumes and dancing. Personally, she finds the material deeply touching, and she’s relished the opportunity to work with committed and talented student performers.

“I hope audience members will be moved to think about compassion, love and attachment, perhaps in new ways,” she says. “This is an opportunity to celebrate and exercise the awesome power of the performing arts.”


“The Feathered Mantle” and “The Weaver and the Dress” are showing in the Willamette University Pelton Theatre April 14-30. Thursday through Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m., and matinees begin at 2 p.m. April 17, 24 and 30.

Tickets for the double-billed production cost $12 for general admission, $10 for seniors 65 and older, and $8 for Willamette students with ID. Tickets may be purchased at the door, by calling the WU Theatre Box Office at 503-370-6221 or by email at They are also available at

Pre-Show Talks

Arrive early and join us for these informative and engaging pre-show lectures:

Friday, April 15 (Opening Night), 7:00 p.m.
Noh Theatre's Themes, Dreams, and Concepts of Beauty.
Poet and Playwright of The Weaver and The Dress Judy Halesky

Saturday, April 16, 7:00 p.m.
Insights From Ten Years of Japanese Music and Dance Collaborations
With Noru Ka Soru Ka.

Willamette University Professor of Music Mike Nord

Thursday, April 21, 7:00 p.m.
How is Japanese Theatre Different?
Portland State University Professor of Japanese Larry Kominz

Friday, April 29, 7:00 p.m.
Themes of Grief, Loss, and Pain in the Works of Frida Kahlo.
Willamette University Assistant Professor of Art History Abigail Susik

All pre-show lectures will begin promptly at 7:00 in the main stage. Schedule subject to change.

Frida mask

This carved mask of artist Frida Kahlo appears in the play, "The Weaver and the Dress," opening April 14 at Willamette University. (Artist credit: Kitazawa Hideta)

Willamette University

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