Coming up tomorrow night as part of Morbid Anatomy Presents at Observatory, we have the illustrated story of Justin Nobel's journey in search of the truth behind the Japanese concept of obasute-yama or Granny Dump Mountain. Coming up next week, we have the eagerly anticipated "Buried Alive," a miniature matchbox theatre performance (pictured above) which describes itself as a "frightfully funny exploration of our fear of being buried alive and of the curious phenomenon of 19th Century 'waiting mortuaries.'"
Full details follow for both events. Hope to see you at one of both!
The Search for Granny-Dump Mountain
Illustrated lecture by Journalist Justin Nobel
Date: Thursday, January 26th
Presented by Morbid Anatomy
When elders in rural Japan reached age 70--or so an ancient legend would have it--their sons would carry them to the top of a holy mountain and leave them to die of exposure and starvation. Granny-dump mountain, or obasute-yama, was seen as a way to trim the population and make way for the next generation in cold mountain villages where food was short and winter was long. It is referenced by the obscure eleventh century diarist Lady Sarashina, master haiku poet Matsuo Basho and a 1983 Palme d’Or winning film, yet most anthropologists doubt the practice ever actually existed.
Intrigued by this story, journalist Justin Nobel took to the road to see if he could get to the bottom of this enigmatic legend. His travels ultimately led him to a tiny town in northern Japan haunted by cannibalistic mountain men and shape shifting sprites. After scouring the countryside for clues he came to a shocking conclusion: the legend was very much alive, right in the heart of Tokyo.
Tonight join Morbid Anatomy and Justin Nobel to hear the story of his search for the elusive Granny-Dump Mountain.
Justin Nobel is a freelance journalist. His writing has appeared in TIME, Popular Mechanics, Audubon, Guernica and Meatpaper. His essay, The Last Inuit of Quebec, was recently included in Best American Travel Writing 2011 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). He pens a blog called Digital Dying for the funeral information website funeralwise.com and another called the Absurd Adventurer where he sits for hours in one New York City spot. He lives in Blissville.
Image: A plaque commemorating Granny-dump Mountain in the northern Japan town of Tono. (Photo by Justin Nobel)
PERFORMANCE: Buried Alive! A Matchbox Theatre
A matchbox theatre performance by Deborah Kaufmann
Dates: Thursday, February 2nd AND Friday February 3rd
Time: 8:00 PM
Presented by Morbid Anatomy
*** Audience limited to 25 people per show; first come, first served
“The way each box reveals its tiny inhabitants is entrancing and Deborah Kaufmann… is sweetly enchanting.” – The Village Voice
“Depicted with comic deadpan perversity… a wink and raised eyebrow of an entertainment.” – www.womanaroundtown.com
Buried Alive! a matchbox theatre, is a frightfully funny exploration of our fear of being buried alive and of the curious phenomenon of 19th Century “waiting mortuaries.” Based on historical and medical facts. Tiny, intimate and interactive, full of dreadful discoveries for an adult audience.
BURIED ALIVE! is performed on a tabletop and is constructed entirely in and of matchboxes. It takes advantage of the unique qualities of these tiny stages. Images and characters slide out, slide through, pop up, and drop out of the matchboxes. A merry eccentric matron is your guide. The Nineteenth Century is evoked, but BURIED ALIVE! is creatively anachronistic and plays with scale.
Buried Alive! was inspired by an article entitled, “Pediatric Brain Death,” found in a hospital resident on-call room, and by research into the myths, truths, history and ethics surrounding the true moment of biological death.
Conceived, constructed and performed by Deborah Kaufmann. Kaufmann has delighted audiences in Europe, Australia and across North America with original physical comedy. This year she celebrates 25 years with the Big Apple Circus Clown Care program, where she brings the joy of circus to hospitalized children, their families and caregivers. She has been called, “by no means merely cute ... a performer to be trusted, enjoyed and seen” ---nytheatre.com
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Image: Photo by Jim Moore, 2011