A girl, a ghost, and the many faces of Hanako

September 14, 2016

I was excited to attend the world premiere of Hanako: Desire & other Secret Weapons created by talented Brisbane team, Katherine Lyall-Watson (read our previous interview with Katherine – here) and Caroline Dunphy.

It was inspired by Japanese plays, contemporary culture including urban fashion, martial arts and Anime, and is playing in the Visy Theatre, Brisbane Powerhouse as part of the Brisbane Festival (you had better hurry to catch it).

The play – the life of a young girl

on-floor-low-resHanako is a girl whose life begins in a brothel, who becomes a legendary performer best known for her dying scenes after being ‘discovered’ by the American producer, Louie Fuller.

She is also a modern-day international performer feted around the world – a girl who falls in love, or is she a ghost haunting a girl’s bathroom? In Japanese Hanako means many things.

Beginning in an eerie underground dojo with trains clacking endlessly by, the play mingles modern-day and traditional elements to tell the many stories of Hanako.

Music and movement plays a big part. Old favourite  Poison Arrow (you remember ABC’s song? … Shoot that poison arrow through my heart ...) sets the scene whilst Kimie Tsuakakoshi’s beautiful voice—when she is performing solo as the feted pop star—is a joy to listen to.

dj-low-resUrban fashion is interspersed with elements of Anime, DJ and hip hop, and the lighting by the talented Jason Glenwright  really sets the mood throughout the play.

Based on the real lives of legendary Japanese performer Ota Hisa—a famous Japanese dancer who became one of Rodin’s favourite models—and Yukio Mishima—one of Japan’s greatest writers who was also a body builder—Hanako takes us on a fascinating journey.

The cast

The international cast assembled by the Belloo Creative team is a mixture of experience and emerging talent.  Experienced actors Noriako Okubi (from Gento Theatre Project, Kyoto) and Kimie Tsukakoshi (The Family Law and Secret City) play the lead roles. Caroline Dunphy (Director) also plays the role of Loie Fuller with confidence and presence.

Zachary Boulton, Nicole Harvey and Caitlin Hill will be familiar to Queensland audiences from local productions. Masako Mizusawa is a new face who is studying creative industries at QUT. The cast have fun on stage and with the audience as well.

Quick, don’t miss it

Don’t miss your chance to see this amazing production or the artwork as you walk into the theatre.

Hanako: Desire & Other Secret Weapons runs until 17 September as part of The Brisbane Festival. Tickets $39 plus transaction fees (concession available). Book – here.

Michelle Beesley

Freelance writer, wife and mother of three sons, occasional supply teacher and aspiring romance author, Michelle Beesley can be most often found in a coffee shop chatting with friends or beside a rugby field cheering on her favourite teams.


Michelle is a prolific—albeit reluctant—traveller, keen walker, bookworm and yoga enthusiast who loves anything pink or sparkly (including champagne!).