For Immediate Release
September 6, 2016
Los Angeles, CA

Contact: Krystel Gapasin
(213) 625-7000 x10

East West Players and TAIKOPROJECT Presents Road to Kumano, September 15 – 25

East West Players (EWP), the nation’s longest-running professional theatre of color in the country and the largest producing organization of Asian American artistic work, continues its 51st Anniversary Season Radiant with the world premiere of Road to Kumano. Chieko Kojima, the lead female performer for the world-renowned taiko group Kodo, joins the TAIKOPROJECT ensemble at East West Players in this unique dance theatre piece based on the classic Buddhist tale of Dojoji.

“Taiko has always been a part of traditional Japanese theater traditions such as Noh and Kabuki, but usually only providing musical support to actors or dancers onstage,” says Bryan Yamami, TAIKOPROJECT Managing Director. “In Road to Kumano, we are placing taiko front and center with the classic tale of Dojoji as the narrative framework for the show. This show will truly be unlike anything we have done before in our 16-year history.”

“We are so thrilled to continue our 51st anniversary and special events series with TAIKOPROJECT as they debut this hybrid theatrical/dance piece. I remember seeing TAIKOPROJECT for the first time on the Oscars and was thrilled by their grace and power,” says EWP Artistic Director Snehal Desai. “We are honored as they embark on this new project inspired by the Dojoji story and starring the renowned Chieko Kojima, a groundbreaking member of the famous Kodo company in Japan. It promises to be an indelible evening of music, movement, and artistic agility on stage.”

TAIKOPROJECT was founded in 2000 in Los Angeles, California by a group of young, emerging taiko drummers. They were seeking to create a truly American style of taiko, blending traditional forms in which they were raised, with an innovative and fresh approach to the Japanese drum.

TAIKOPROJECT first made waves when they became the first American taiko group to win the prestigious Tokyo International Taiko Contest in 2005, besting all of the Japanese taiko groups in the competition. Since then, the group has performed on the 2009 Academy Awards, the 2011 Grammy Awards, NBC’s The Voice, Syfy’s Face/Off, The X-Factor, and were honored with the prestigious Visionary Award from East West Players. In 2013, TAIKOPROJECT was featured in rock band 30 Seconds to Mars’ epic “Up in the Air” music video and appeared with the band on Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and the iHeartRadio Music Festival.

Performers also include Masato Baba, Jen Baik, Courtney Deguchi, Chieko Kojima, Blaine O’Brien, Yumi Saito, David Wells, and Bryan Yamami with rotating cast members: Andrew Chen, Keiko Harada, Tomomi Hongo, Liz Ishida, Jenny Mimura, Doug Sakamoto, Audrey Tu, and Brian Yamagata.

The creative team includes choreography by Chieko Kojima, music by TAIKOPROJECT, staging consultant David Furumoto, sound design by Glenn Suravech, lighting design by Scott LeGrand, costume design by Chieko Kojima & Sueko Oshimoto, hair styling by Jennifer Caballero and stage Manager is Brandon Cheng.

This production is presented in association with Kodo Arts Sphere America and is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Japan Foundation Los Angeles, the Sansei Legacy Fund, the Toyota Giving Circle, and AAPIP (Asian American/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy).

All performances will be staged at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center of the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. The ten performance engagement begins September 15 through September 25, Thursday through Saturday performances at 8PM, and Saturday and Sunday matinee performances at 2PM. Tickets may be purchased online at or by calling (213) 625-7000. Tickets range from $35-$50. Student and Senior discounts available. Dates, prices and details are subject to change.