New York | 1h 30m | Already closed

The Ephemera Trilogy

From 8 critic and 32 member reviews
Members say: Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Great staging, Clever, Ambitious

About the show

The Tank presents a trio of sand drawing and shadow performances that examine memory, home, and transcultural identity. Created and performed by Japanese-American artist Kimi Maeda. More…

Paper and sand, light and shadow, memory and identity, the familiar and the strange; woven together these are the elements that compose Kimi Maeda’s 'Ephemera Trilogy.' Developed over a period of six years, these three short solo pieces employ a range of innovative storytelling techniques and visuals to explore the artist’s bicultural identity and family history, from a Japanese American internment camp during World War II, to postwar Japan, to suburban New England. Part of The Tank’s Flint & Tinder series.

NY Theatre Guide

"This work will stay with me forever…It is exceptional…Maeda has been able to transcend the traditional form on about seven thousand levels and each new discovery is even more deeply satisfying than the one before…This is more than a great text, performance, artwork—it’s something else—it’s a portal to instantaneous self-reflection...I think Maeda may be the light worker of our time, taking us into the next step in our much needed evolution...It’s a sacred experience.” Full Review

Woman Around Town

“‘Bend’ alone is worth the price of admission, making the first two visually stunning, strikingly creative pieces gifts of light and beauty. The recommendation is to make 'The Ephemera Trilogy' a priority; it is breathtaking, both for the bold and open approach to its subject and the subtle beauty of its expression…The whole performance is mesmerizing...'Bend' commands us to look at one of our country’s most shameful moments and learn from that generation’s mistakes." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

“'The Ephemera Trilogy' is a deeply personal and solitary piece. The narrations alone are written in a tone that is personable and poetic; it might have come out of an episode of 'This American Life.' Coupled with materials that are of quintessentially ephemeral nature, the storytelling becomes exponentially intriguing…Witnessing all that the ephemera trilogy has to offer is a truly rewarding experience. There is layer upon layer of love in this performance of solitude and discipline.” Full Review

Stage Buddy

"That the tales are so compelling with so few dramatic flourishes is a testament to the power these stories hold, though the piece sometimes gets muddled by the massive themes it’s trying to convey. What truly drives the piece, however, are Maeda’s artistic visuals, which transform her straightforward stories into masterful works of art...By relying not only on sand art but on the fleeting form of theatre itself, 'The Ephemera Trilogy' asserts its purpose in its actions as much as its words." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"In 'Bend,' the third and longest part of 'The Ephemera Trilogy, Kimi Maeda turns her complicated, and not entirely happy, family history into an elegant piece of performance art...The first part, which is much shorter, consists of two pieces...Neither is particularly interesting, and the visuals are less than compelling...In any case, the first half passes quickly and one is soon immersed in the many-layered meditation that is 'Bend.'" Full Review

Village Voice

“The first two segments are graceful but gentle inquiries that on their own leave an indistinct impression. But the final piece proves the densest, strongest, and most visually provocative…Maeda calls upon a remarkable visual craft, but the trilogy could use some narrative tightening to make the themes she raises in each part resonate collectively...Given a more focused approach to how the stories are told, we could better appreciate Maeda's complex ideas regarding borders, memory, and history." Full Review

Plays to See

“A visually stunning piece of theater. It combines puppetry, shadow art and sand work to create a very unique experience…The first act is certainly the strongest; the stories are intriguing, universal, and well told…The second act, however, leaves something to be desired…Unless you have an established interest in her family, it is difficult to really engage with the piece…Overall, Maeda combines many different aspects to create a cohesive whole which is ambitious, unique and effective.” Full Review

The Jasper Project

for a previous production "It’s difficult to leave a performance of Kimi Maeda’s 'Ephemera Trilogy' without your head buzzing with questions...Each section of 'Ephemera,' which was developed over a period of six years, employs a different stunning and innovative method of telling a story, each of which foregrounds its storytelling artifice while at the same time reaching for something that feels true, that feels real, in the process...A rich, nuanced, and simply extraordinary piece of artwork." Full Review

Absorbing, Clever, Great staging, Masterful, Riveting

See it if You have doubts about solo shows. The engrossing staging and storytelling will pull you in.

Don't see it if I can't think of a reason. It was great.

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Clever, Masterful, Unique

See it if You enjoy unique theatrical experiences or appreciate the design aspects of theater. Kimi's use of shadows, sand, etc is mesmerizing!

Don't see it if You need a linear plot, characters, or only enjoy a traditional theatrical experience.

Clever, Entertaining, Masterful

See it if you want to be amazed by live animation. Truly amazing technique and mastery of her media.

Don't see it if you don't like shadow puppets.

Delightful, Masterful, Enchanting, Exquisite, Ambitious

See it if enjoy one-person story telling, done with light, puppets, and sand. Artistically and skillfully performed.

Don't see it if you have to sit in an intimate theatre and you dont' like Japanese sensibility.

Absorbing, Exquisite, Intense, Must see, Masterful

See it if A simple presentation of delightful & intense stories gets to your soul - if you enjoyed Allegience you will find this just as absorbing

Don't see it if You prefer staging and interaction among performers or dislike storytelling or performance art which is the only way i can categorize this

Absorbing, Clever, Exquisite, Masterful, Informative

See it if You really want to see something different. You want to see an artist share her history through video, sand art and shadow art.

Don't see it if You need something fast paced. You don't like a performance that incorporates video. You are not interested in anything history.

Also This was truly a different kind of performance. It was art in motion. ... Read more Read less

Delightful, Absorbing, Great staging, Masterful

See it if you saw Manual Cinema's Ada/Ava and liked it; the second part of the show uses a very different approach and works even better, imho

Don't see it if it's really worth seeing,

Also Excellent and inventive shadow puppetry; if you saw Manual Cinema's Ad... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Exquisite, Resonant, Enchanting, Thought-provoking

See it if you want a thought-provoking, meditative, unconventional one-woman show about immigrant identity, family, and historic injustice.

Don't see it if you don't like multimedia, experimental shows. Don't expect a spectacle or an abundance of energy and movement.

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great staging, Resonant, Ambitious

See it if you enjoy unique theatrical forms like storytelling & performance art. Act 1 is charming while Act 2 is fascinating. Sit in the front row!

Don't see it if you prefer well made plays. The stories have characters, plots and themes but are not presented in the traditional way.

Clever, Absorbing, Ambitious, Great staging, Intelligent

See it if creative, different, powerful.

Don't see it if at times it was difficult to follow

Absorbing, Great staging, Intelligent, Resonant, Creative

See it if You enjoy alternative theater forms (shadow puppetry, sand drawing, documentary); raw creativity, personal histories, identity exploration

Don't see it if You're looking for acting, on-stage interaction, traditional story lines

Absorbing, Entertaining, Enchanting, Great staging, Thought-provoking

See it if you're interested in very cool shadow puppetry, sand art, or learning about Japanese internment camps. Very relevant to ideas today.

Don't see it if you don't like one woman shows, shadow puppets, or sand art.

Lyrical and lovely, Kimi is a talented and thoughtful artist., Non-traditional theater and storytelling., Absorbing and entertaining., A little slow, but keeps your interest.

See it if Are open to new theater experiences, have interest in cultural themes and artistic expression, have some knowledge of history. Creative.

Don't see it if Don't enjoy memory pieces, memoir, experimental theater or dreamy story. Don't like documentaries, no interest in history, want fast-paced.

Also I enjoyed this, but I'm a sucker for creative storytelling. Sitting in... Read more Read less


See it if You like a different kind of theatre. This involved silouhettes and sand drawings.

Don't see it if You don't like one-woman shows. This was her story and it was well done.

Great staging, Masterful

See it if You're interested in various methods of "puppetry" or telling stories through video, shadows, and more.

Don't see it if You like things with more action, this show is mainly autobiography and can be slow.

Absorbing, Delightful, Ambitious, Confusing, Resonant

See it if You like history, avant garde performance art, nuanced ways of storytelling

Don't see it if You dislike one person shows or linear storylines

Ambitious, Lyrical, Imaginative, Unusual, Slow

See it if you enjoy performance art that creates great visual images. The storytelling is engaging, but slow, repetitive, and sometimes muddled.

Don't see it if you are frustrated by muddy narration. The voiceover can be hard to decipher. And the autobio story, weaving 2 tales, is hard to follow.

Also Some of the images are breathtaking, worth attending for them. And the... Read more Read less

Clever, Ambitious, Intelligent, Must see, Thought-provoking

See it if You are interested in personal history of Asian Americans in world ll era and like performance art.

Don't see it if You don't like historical performances that reflect contemporary issues.

During previews
Entertaining, Clever, Great staging

See it if U like performance art and creative producions

Don't see it if One woman show

During previews
Clever, Great staging, Profound, Resonant, Riveting

See it if It was absolutely amazing. Her use of shadow and sand drawing is absolutely unique. I was mesmerized by her craft. She is brilliant.

Don't see it if Stories of the internment camps depress you. However this would be extremely informative and as an immigrant I could relate to a lot of it.

Also Kimi takes storytelling to an entire new level. She is able to touch o... Read more Read less

During previews
Exquisite, Intimate, Riveting, Thought-provoking, Mesmerizing

See it if you love personal stories, especially of female empowerment, culture, art, and Japanese internment camps. You love quiet puppetry art.

Don't see it if you can't be patient with single-voiced narration. You need a thread to move with plot, rather than feelings and thoughts.

During previews
Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if You enjoy personal tales told in a variety of interesting ways Also, if you enjoy relevant tales about being an immigrant in America

Don't see it if you don't like being reminded of the mistakes America has made

Also You are witnessing a highly personal telling of one person's understan... Read more Read less

During previews
Absorbing, Delightful, Enchanting, Thought-provoking

See it if you want to be astounded by incredibly beautiful art created and then destroyed before your eyes

Don't see it if you want a traditional play.

During previews
Absorbing, Clever, Thought-provoking, Slow, Refreshing

See it if If you enjoy performance art: shadow puppetry and sand drawing, the art itself is simply amazing!

Don't see it if If you don't like slow narrative, you don't care about Japanese-American experiences in the last century.

During previews
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great staging, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if You want to see a combination of theatre and performance art that tells a personal and cultural story.

Don't see it if You don't like performance art. You prefer more traditional storytelling & staging.

Cast & Creatives (5)