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Entertainment Highlights: A Tradition Revived with Shadow Puppetry

  • A scene from Shadowlight Production’s Poro Onya: the Myth of the Aynu, a show that will peformed at the Hopkins Center Friday and Saturday, Jan. 10 and 11, 2014. It brings to the stage the culture of the indigenous Aynu people in Japan. <br/>(Courtesy photographs)

    A scene from Shadowlight Production’s Poro Onya: the Myth of the Aynu, a show that will peformed at the Hopkins Center Friday and Saturday, Jan. 10 and 11, 2014. It brings to the stage the culture of the indigenous Aynu people in Japan.
    (Courtesy photographs)

  • A scene from Shadowlight Production’s Poro Onya: the Myth of the Aynu, a show that will peformed at the Hopkins Center Friday and Saturday, Jan. 10 and 11, 2014. It brings to the stage the culture of the indigenous Aynu people in Japan. <br/>(Courtesy photographs)

    A scene from Shadowlight Production’s Poro Onya: the Myth of the Aynu, a show that will peformed at the Hopkins Center Friday and Saturday, Jan. 10 and 11, 2014. It brings to the stage the culture of the indigenous Aynu people in Japan.
    (Courtesy photographs)

  • A scene from Shadowlight Production’s Poro Onya: the Myth of the Aynu, a show that will peformed at the Hopkins Center Friday and Saturday, Jan. 10 and 11, 2014. It brings to the stage the culture of the indigenous Aynu people in Japan. <br/>(Courtesy photographs)

    A scene from Shadowlight Production’s Poro Onya: the Myth of the Aynu, a show that will peformed at the Hopkins Center Friday and Saturday, Jan. 10 and 11, 2014. It brings to the stage the culture of the indigenous Aynu people in Japan.
    (Courtesy photographs)

  • A scene from Shadowlight Production’s Poro Onya: the Myth of the Aynu, a show that will peformed at the Hopkins Center Friday and Saturday, Jan. 10 and 11, 2014. It brings to the stage the culture of the indigenous Aynu people in Japan. <br/>(Courtesy photographs)

    A scene from Shadowlight Production’s Poro Onya: the Myth of the Aynu, a show that will peformed at the Hopkins Center Friday and Saturday, Jan. 10 and 11, 2014. It brings to the stage the culture of the indigenous Aynu people in Japan.
    (Courtesy photographs)

  • A scene from Shadowlight Production’s Poro Onya: the Myth of the Aynu, a show that will peformed at the Hopkins Center Friday and Saturday, Jan. 10 and 11, 2014. It brings to the stage the culture of the indigenous Aynu people in Japan. <br/>(Courtesy photographs)
  • A scene from Shadowlight Production’s Poro Onya: the Myth of the Aynu, a show that will peformed at the Hopkins Center Friday and Saturday, Jan. 10 and 11, 2014. It brings to the stage the culture of the indigenous Aynu people in Japan. <br/>(Courtesy photographs)
  • A scene from Shadowlight Production’s Poro Onya: the Myth of the Aynu, a show that will peformed at the Hopkins Center Friday and Saturday, Jan. 10 and 11, 2014. It brings to the stage the culture of the indigenous Aynu people in Japan. <br/>(Courtesy photographs)
  • A scene from Shadowlight Production’s Poro Onya: the Myth of the Aynu, a show that will peformed at the Hopkins Center Friday and Saturday, Jan. 10 and 11, 2014. It brings to the stage the culture of the indigenous Aynu people in Japan. <br/>(Courtesy photographs)

Only about a dozen people are native speakers of the language of the Aynu, indigenous Japanese people who settled on one of the country’s islands thousands of years ago.

It wasn’t until 2008 that the Japanese government officially said the Aynu were “indigenous,” after years of an assimilation policy that squashed the culture’s individuality.

But that individuality hasn’t been lost, said Larry Reed, artistic director of San Francisco-based shadow theater group ShadowLight Productions.

“I would say there’s a large movement of revival and rejuvenation of Aynu culture,” he said.

He’s had a hand in it. Along with five Aynu musicians, Reed will perform the shadow puppetry show Poro Oyna: the Myth of the Aynu at the Hopkins Center on Friday and Saturday. The performance tells the mythological story of Aynu Rakkur, a demigod asked to rescue the Sun Goddess from a monster whose name is unpronounceable.

“The characters involved basically define the culture,” Reed said.

This weekend will be the U.S. premiere of the show, which saw several performances in Japan in 2011 and 2012, including one in Hokkaido, an island settled by the Aynu people thousands of years ago.

And Reed, who is trained in Balinese shadow puppetry, will be joined on stage by Oki, an Aynu musician who plays a traditional string instrument called the tonkori, and Marewrew, a group of four women who sing in the Aynu form of upopo.

For those who want a taste of those musical styles in addition to the show, at 11 a.m. on Saturday morning Marewrew will perform at free show at Alumni Hall, accompanied by Oki.

The music will be just one part of Friday and Saturday nights’ tapestry, though, as the story of the demigod goes on behind a curtain. The show is meant for ages 10 and up, Reed said, and he said unfamiliarity with the subject matter shouldn’t be a hindrance for those on the fence about attending.

“Our style is to be visual first,” Reed said. “Even if you don’t really understand the language, you can understand, with the visuals, exactly what’s going on.”

He added that the purpose of shadow theater in Indonesia is to “recharge the batteries” of the audience, and expects Poro Oyna to provide the same service.

“You need to eat all the time to recharge your body — you also need to recharge the soul,” Reed said. “And that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Shadowlight Productions’ “Poro Oyna: The Myth of the Aynu” will play at the Hop at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Tickets range from $17 to $30, and can be purchased from hop.dartmouth.edu.

Best Bets

A capella quartet Zazzle will play the inaugural event for the Coolidge Salon series at White River Junction’s Hotel Coolidge. The performance will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, with a $10 entrance fee, and will also include refreshments and a post-show question and answer session. Zazzle, which is made up of four women who use a barbershop quartet setup, were named 2013 Novice Quartet Champions at the Harmony, Incorporated International Convention and Contests in Windsor, Ontario.

∎ New Hampshire drum group Recycled Percussion will play the Lebanon Opera House on Friday, performing a show that utilizes industrial junk and other tools to make percussive music. Besides a regular gig in Las Vegas, the group has also appeared on America’s Got Talent. Friday’s show will begin at 7:30 p.m., and all seats are $25. Tickets can be purchased by going to lebanonoperahouse.org or calling 603-448-0400.

Looking Ahead

Northern Stage will put on a production of The Fox on the Fairway, which was written by Ken Ludwig and premiered in 2010, starting on Feb. 5. The play is a farce following the president of a country club. For individual show times and ticket prices, go to northernstage.org.

Music

Hot Flannel, an acoustic bluegrass-style group featuring Patrick Ross, will perform at the West Newbury Hall in West Newbury, Vt., on Friday. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door, and can be reserved by calling 802-866-3324 or going to the Newbury Village Store.

∎ Alto saxophonist Greg Abate will perform as part of Jazz on a Sunday afternoon this weekend, at Grantham’s Center at Eastman. The show begins at 4 p.m., and adult tickets are $18. Reservations can be made in advance by calling 603-763-8732 or emailing bill.wightman@comcast.net.

∎ The Sospiri Trio — Margaret Herlehy on oboe, Janet Polk on bassoon and Arlene Kies on piano — will perform its show “Stolen Gems” at Dartmouth’s Rollins Chapel on Sunday. The program, which is free and begins at 1 p.m., features works by composers Christopher Kies, Paul Angerer and Beethoven.

∎ Keller Williams, the solo artist who loops his funky music as he plays it live, turning himself into a one-man band, will perform at the Pickle Barrel in Killington tonight. The 21-and-over show begins at 9 p.m., and doors open an hour beforehand. Tickets are $21.50 day of show, and can be purchased by calling 802-422-3035 or going to picklebarrelnightclub.com.

∎ Pianist and singer John Lovejoy will hold a release party for his latest CD at the Claremont Opera House. The show starts at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $17.64 in advance, and $20 at the door. They can be purchased at claremontoperahouse.org or by calling 603-542-4433.

Dances

The band Northern Spy will sound track a Second Saturday Contradance at Tracy Hall in Norwich at 8 p.m. on Saturday. David Millstone will call the dances, which are all taught and called. Admission is $8 for adults.

Film

Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock will show The Lives of Others, the latest in its 2013-2014 film series, at 3 p.m. on Saturday. The 2006 movie, which depicts East Berlin in the years just before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Call 802-457-2355 to purchase tickets, which are $9 for adults.

Bar and Club Circuit

Guitarist and singer John Fuzek will perform at the Sunapee Community Coffee House at 7 p.m. on Friday.

∎ Frydaddy will return to Hartland’s Skunk Hollow Tavern for a performance on Friday, starting at 9 p.m.

∎ Country rocker Sarah Peacock will visit Hanover’s Salt hill Pub on Friday as part of a countrywide tour. The music begins at 9 p.m.

∎ Blues and funk musician Will Michaels will play at the Salt hill Pub in Lebanon with bass player Ben Butterworth on Friday, starting at 9 p.m.

∎ Jim Hollis, he of Beatles-esque pop and rock, will return to the Salt hill Pub in Newport on Friday. Music starts at 9 p.m.

∎ Local singer-songwriter Brooks Hubbard will perform at One Mile West in Sunapee on Sunday, starting at 4 p.m.

∎ Nashville recording artist Clay Canfield brings his talents to the River Stones Tavern in Quechee on Fridays and Saturdays, starting at 8 p.m. He also performs at Bentleys Restaurant in Woodstock on Sundays, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

∎ At Hanover’s Canoe Club, Ted Mortimer will sing and play guitar tonight, followed by pianist Randall Mullen on Friday. Rowley Hazard will play a jazzy variant of pop and rock on guitar on Saturday, and Bob Lucier will play piano on Sunday. Norm Yanofsky will take to the keys on Wednesday. All music begins at 7 p.m.

∎ The Spare Parts will play at Jesse’s in Hanover on Friday, starting at 5 p.m.

∎ Guitarist EJ Tretter will perform at Lebanon’s Stone Arch Bakery on Sunday, beginning at 11:30 a.m.

Open Mics

Ramunto’s Brick & Brew Pizza in Bridgewater hosts an open mic starting at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays. Participants get a free large cheese pizza.

∎ Salt hill Pub in Hanover runs an open mic hosted by Chad Gibbs on Mondays at 7 p.m.

∎ At Salt hill in Lebanon, Brian Warren and Seth Barbiero will host an open mic tonight starting at 8.

∎ Brian Warren also hosts an open mic at Bentleys Restaurant in Woodstock. It’s on Mondays, starting at 8:30 p.m.

∎ Bradford’s Colatina Exit hosts an open mic on Tuesdays starting at 8 p.m.

∎ The Seven Barrel Brewery in West Lebanon runs an open mic on Wednesdays, beginning at 8 p.m.

∎ Gregory Brown hosts an open mic at Hartland’s Skunk Hollow Tavern, beginning at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Jon Wolper can be reached at jwolper@vnews.com or 603-727-3242. Send Highlights to Highlights@vnews.com.