Huntington Explores The Art of Deception
in Naomi Iizuka's "36 Views"

What's real and what's not?  Holding up a mirror to headlines about art-world forgeries and the global pilfering of cultural artifacts, Naomi Iizuka's drama "36 Views" tells the timely story of six characters facing dilemmas about authenticity --not only of the ancient artworks that surround them, but also of their personal and professional relationships. Evan Yionoulis directs the Huntington Theatre production running  March 11-April 10.

Amidst a physical backdrop of ever-changing scenery inspired by Japanese aesthetics and designed by Adam Stockhausen, unscrupulous art dealer Darius Wheeler and East Asian literature professor Setsuko Hearn become captivated by the sudden appearance of an ancient courtesan's journal, or pillow book. 

They both have designs on the find and are drawn quickly into a relationship of mutual intrigue.  What Wheeler and Hearn don't know is that assistant John Bell, and Claire Tsong, a restorer of Asian artifacts, may bring down an empire by forging the pillow book and its provenance.  The situation spirals out of control, sparking an international sensation about the book and attracting the attention of a mysterious woman who's asking a lot of questions.

Variety commented, "In 36 Views, a deceptively simple series of events escalates from a casual prank to a major art forgery.  As Iizuka masterfully reveals, the veracity of art is inexorably entwined around the worthiness of the human soul."

"36 Views" is structured after The Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, a series of woodblock paintings by Japanese artist Hokusai Katsushika (1760-1849), considered one of the outstanding figures of the Japanese Ukiyo-e school of printmaking.  By separating the play into thirty-six scenes, Iizuka reveals pieces of the plot from different viewpoints.  Multiple layers of deception are slowly uncovered, as are twists that prove the characters to be not always who they claim.  Despite its unique structure, the play has a traditional story arc and a pace that moves the audience quickly through the drama. 

Backdrops and projections inspired by Hokusai's woodblock paintings figure prominently in the set design, as do the sounds of Japanese shakuhachi flutes and wooden clappers used to delineate emotional shifts and scene changes in traditional kabuki theatre. 

According to Huntington Literary Manager Ilana Brownstein, the exotic visual and aural landscape of "36 Views" immerses the audience in cultural richness and signifies "something deeper and unknowable about the emotional life of the characters."

"36 Views" marks the Boston-area premiere for San Francisco-based playwright Iizuka, whom Brownstein calls "one of the hottest, most-commissioned playwrights in the country."  Iizuka has received commissions from many of the country's largest regional theatres including the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, and Actors Theatre of Louisville.

The Huntington's series of Club Nights, designed for theatregoers 35 and under, and for members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities,  provide an opportunity to mingle with fellow theatregoers and participating members of the artistic team and cast at a pre- or post-show reception (free with the purchase of tickets).

Club Nights include:

For theatregoers 35 and under
Thursday, March 17
Pre-show reception at 6 p.m., performance at 7:30 p.m. 

For gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities
Wednesday, March 30
Pre-show reception at 6 p.m., performance at 7:30 p.m.

Learn more about theatre - what's onstage and what's happening behind the scenes - with this exciting interactive program on Tuesday, April 5,at 6 p.m.

See a presentation by a member of the Huntington's artistic staff, featuring contextual background and production-related information.
Tuesday, March 15, 6:30 p.m.

Sunday, April 3, following the 2 p.m. matinee.
Humanities Forums are free and open to the public.

Participating members of the 36 Views cast will appear after the show to answer questions from the audience.
Wednesday, March 30, after the 2 p.m. matinee
and Thursday, March 31, after the 7:30 p.m. show.

For more information, stop by the box office, call 617-266-0800, or visit or

-- OnStage Boston


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