As part of a senior project, Sydney Anderson, a 2011 Concord Academy Petoskey graduate, wanted to write a play that had a horror theme, but would still be able to be performed at the school.
So Anderson, now a freshman at the University of Missouri, wrote “Kwaidan,” which showcased her interest in Japanese culture and in creative writing.
“Kwaidan” will be performed by Concord students at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Jan. 26-27, at Crooked Tree Arts Center.
“The play is, essentially, four one-acts tied together with a uniting theme, which is the tradition of ghost stories in Japan,” Anderson said. “The ghost stories are presented as stories that are being told during Hyaku-Monogatarai, or the Japanese ghost story ceremony, which is traditionally performed during Obon, the festival of the dead.”
Anderson said she chose Japanese ghost stories because of their rich tradition, and they “tend to be rely more on atmosphere than blood and guts,” she explained.
The play is directed by Concord drama teacher, Gary Schils, who came up with the idea of using puppetry for supernatural effects. Schils and Kent Case both worked with Anderson during her senior year to develop the concept.
And the concept fits nicely in the school’s curriculum.
“The high school curriculum at Concord Academy Petoskey this year focuses on world cultures,” said Sylvia Jania, a teacher at Concord Academy. “The theater program encourages producing student written plays.”
Students are designing and building costumes and the set. In addition, students are constructing Japanese style puppets to be used for special effects. The play also features a chorus of dancers demonstrating traditional Japanese dance forms such as the fan dance and sword dance.
Anderson noted the overreaching themes of the play are the modernization and the loss of tradition.
Because of the distance, Anderson isn’t able to be involved much in the production of the performance, but said she felt it was an honor for her work to be chosen to be performed.
Tickets for the performance of “Kwaidan” are $5 for students and $8 for adults.