Seen / By Everyone is a play about death and grieving in the age of social media, composed of found text culled from various platforms.  Not long ago, when a person died they disappeared, living on only in private photographs and letters, or a death-notice on microfiche. Now, their presence remains: their photos and comments and questions, their trivialities and heartfelt expressions linger on. We can still visit their pages or feeds and “talk” to them, in full view of everyone else. What does it mean to live, die, grieve, and keep living in the era of over-sharing? When the dead don’t just “go away” the way they used to?

“Although we still cannot speak directly to the dead, these days they can call back out to us. And what they say, whether it’s in a voicemail, a text, or a tweet, is the most important message any of us will ever be able to convey: I was here. I am gone now, but I was here.” — Luke O’Neil, Boston Magazine



West Coast Premiere

Presented by Theatre of Yugen

October 5 – 21, 2018 at NOHSpace, San Francisco CA

directed by Nick Ishimaru
stage managed by McKenna Moses
sets by Josh McDermott
costumes by Liz Bent
lights by Brittany Mellerson
sound by Ella Cooley

with Annika Bergman, Alan Coyne, Adrian Deane, Enormvs Muñoz, Paul Rodriguez, Stephanie Whigham and JJ Van Name.

Nick Ishimaru, Artistic Director of Theatre of Yugen, incorporated elements of Noh theater in this West Coast Premiere of Seen / By Everyone. Noh, a theatrical style developed in medieval Japan, deals almost exclusively with the lingering ghosts of the dead. It marries beautifully with the text of Seen / By Everyone. It is a meditation on ghosts of the digital era.

What the Critics Said:

“From a play about death, we keep learning about life.”—Evelyn Arevalo, Theatrius

“A theatrical experience that uses the stage, the actors and the Noh tradition to construct a special, unusual evening’s entertainment….intimate, intellectually stimulating theater experience….profound and mysterious, all together at once... unique, thought provoking, and aesthetically pleasing to the ears and eyes.”—George Powell, ForAllEvents

“Theatre of Yugen surprises their audience with this dark everyday theme by the superb writing collaboration, Five on a Match, multi-talented actors, costumes, sound, set and lighting and direction by Nick Ishimaru. Underlined these warriors of their art with dedication, sincerity and love of their profession.”—Karen Carlson, Marinscope Newspapers

“Seen/By Everyone is a fine match with Japanese aesthetics…underlying emotions being presented in such a mannered and precise form…compelling.”—Patrick Thomas, Talkin’ Broadway

“I love how they weaved American 80s music into a play with traditional Japanese theatrical storytelling.”—Whitney Merchant, SF Sonic

And our favorite review!

“I’m trying to recall the last time a show made me cry.”—Charles Lewis III, The Thinking Man’s Idiot


World Premiere

a Five on a Match Production

June 4th–25th, 2016 at HERE Arts Center, New York NY

directed by Kristin Marting
assistant directed by Noel MacDuffie
stage managed by Courteney Leggett
assistant stage managed by Katherine Yip
sets by Christopher Heilman
costumes by Oana Botez
lights by Ayumu “Poe” Saegusa
sound by Eben Hoffer
video by Ray Sun Ruey-Horng
graphic design by Jennifer Bartoli

with Rolls Andre, Katie Bruestle, Matthew Cohn, Amir Darvish, Polly Lee, Meg MacCary, Enormvs Muñoz, Alesandra Nahodil, Jens Rasmussen, and Jen Taher

What the Critics Said:

"Breathtaking … A surprise" —NEW YORK TIMES
"Powerful … Compelling" —TALKIN' BROADWAY
"Fascinating … Intriguing" —NEW YORK THEATRE REVIEW
"Effective … Fun" —THE REVIEWS HUB
"Thought provoking" —OFF OFF LINE
"Refreshing curiosity … Talented actors" —THE HIGHLIGHTER


Theatre Review by Howard Miller - June 7, 2016

You might expect Seen / By Everyone, the new work at HERE by the collective known as Five On A Match, to be a comic satire, drawing as it does from actual postings on various forms of social media. Even the physical setting, a karaoke bar with the audience members seated at club tables on two sides of the performance space, suggests a fun evening of catty eavesdropping. Surprisingly, however, what unfolds through disjointed conversations (its creators refer to it as a "collage" rather than a play) is an emotionally powerful portrait of love and loss, and of individuals coming to grips with both.

Kudos, to begin with, to the members of Five On A Match (Matthew Cohn, Amir Darvish, Meg MacCary, Enormvs Muñoz, and Jen Taher) for both the tremendous amount of effort they must have put in to pull together a coherent whole from the world of sources available to them. And even more plaudits for the respect with which they have treated the revelatory material, representative of real if unidentified people trying to make sense of their lives in the public forum of social media.

The bar where the evening unfolds is called Acheron, named for the mythological "river of pain" across which souls are ferried to the underworld. Two of these souls, each of whom has died suddenly and unexpectedly, are seated at, or, in the case of one of them, sprawled across the bar among the living mourners. The conversations that unfold around them tell of shock, pain, fear, and longing over the deaths, as well as other stories of loneliness and failed relationships.

Fortunately, not all is unrelentingly bleak. There are touches of humor, foolishness, self-indulgence, bar gossip, and karaoke singing to mitigate the core of sadness. The production is also blessed with a pitch perfect cast that includes the members of Five On A Match, along with another half dozen performers, almost all of whom are experienced Equity actors. They have done an excellent job of developing their characters out of the raw material of Twitter, Facebook, and other messaging sites, so that we are able to differentiate among them and follow their separate story lines through the evening.

Everything about the production works because everything has been carefully planned, down to the monogramed matchbooks, flowers, and candles on the café tables, along with the physical movement of the cast members across the stage, the selection of the karaoke numbers and appropriately non-professional singing, as well as Oana Botez's costumes, Ray Sun Ruey-Horng's video projections, and Christopher Heilman's set design. All told, Seen / By Everyone decidedly rises above its non-linear performance roots to tell an emotionally honest and compelling story that sticks in the mind long after viewing it.