The Production Team

Natsu Nakajima / Choreographer

Natsu Nakajima, choreographer of Sumidagawa, was born on Sakhalin in 1943.  She trained in classical ballet before studying modern dance with Masami Kuni.  At 19, she entered the Kazuo Ohno Dance Institute and only one year later became a founding member of the first Butoh dance activity with the late Tatsumi Hijikata.  In 1969, Natsu Nakajima formed the Muteki-Sha Dance Company.  Her extraordinary performances Niwa in 1985 and Sleep And Reincarnation in 1989, have taken her on tours throughout North America, Australia, Asia and Europe.  In 1989 she received support from the Saison Foundation to present her work at La Mama in New York City.  In 1992 she established “The Class for Body and Mind” and “Dance Education for the Handicappers” in Tokyo.  She is an Assistant Professor at Nihonbashi Gakkan University in Japan and continues to teach and lecture internationally.

Ron Nippe / Technical Director


John Wright / Stage Director

John Wright began his professional career as an actor in Vancouver in the 1960s. He has directed plays ranging from Aeschylus to Ayckbourne, as well as new Canadian plays and musical revues, and film and television dramas and documentaries.  He holds a BA from UBC and an MFA from Stanford.

At the Vancouver Playhouse, John developed stage 2 for the presentation of new Canadian plays.  In Saskatoon he started a small professional company and, following this, directed at Theatre Calgary, and the University of Calgary.  In the 1970’s he turned to filmmaking.  He wrote and directed The Visitor, an award-winning feature film starring Eric Peterson. John was Head of Theatre, Film and Creative Writing at UBC from 1994 to 1999, and returned to directing for the stage, with highly successful productions of classical plays. John was a member of the Vancouver Cantata Singers for twenty years, and co-produced (with Paddy Macleod) the Juno-nominated CD A Venetian Vespers of 1640.

Motivated as always by the resonance of classic works in the modern world, John founded Blackbird Theatre with Paddy Macleod in 2004 and directed the inaugural production of Schiller’s Mary Stuart, Pinter’s The Birthday Party (with Henry Woolf), the Durbach/Ibsen Peer Gynt, (Jessie Award for Outstanding Production), Euripides’ Hecuba and Pinter’s Briefs.  This year he will direct Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? for Blackbird.

Charles Barber / Music Director

Dr Charles Barber began music at six, at 14 wrote a piano concerto, and at 15 first conducted an orchestra. The following year he wrote his first film score, and his first musical. He holds a BMus, Univ. Victoria (1985); AM, Stanford (1987); and DMA, Stanford (1991). He is one of three persons known to have studied with the legendary conductor Carlos Kleiber. He apprenticed to Sir Charles Mackerras in Semele and Der Rosenkavalier (San Francisco Opera, 2000) and in The Makropoulos Case (Metropolitan Opera, 2001) before entering a freelance career. Barber has conducted in Canada and the United States, and on tour in South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Morocco and Spain. He has also produced recordings for Naxos/Marco Polo.

His operatic and concert repertoire includes some 220 works, and includes the principal theatre music of Verdi, Puccini, Mozart, Gilbert & Sullivan, Menotti, less well-known work of Haydn, Handel, Banchieri, and Busoni, and principal composers of the Silver Age in Russia. Barber served as Music Advisor to the award-winning BBC film documentaries, The Art of Conducting (1993) and The Art of Conducting, Volume II (1997). He contributed to the BBC Radio 3 documentary, Who Was Carlos Kleiber? (2009) and may be heard with Placido Domingo, Sir Peter Jonas, and Christine Lemke-Matwey.

I never write letters of recommendation, so this is an exception. Charles Barber is a scholar and a conductor who adores and understands music. We have become friends, and he pretends to believe that I have taught him something.—Carlos Kleiber

Robert Gardiner / Lighting Designer

Marti Wright / Costumier

Robert Eberle / Production Advisor


Nora Kelly, Janet Lea

City Opera of Vancouver

UBC Theatre and Film

Blackbird Theatre



National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre

Vancouver Japanese Language School and Hall

Powell Street Festival

Sikora’s Classical Records

UBC Asian Studies


Accent Inns

Tom Lee Music