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Arts & Culture

Flaming Lips' "Yoshimi" Is Coming To The Playhouse

The Flaming Lips, whose album "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" is the inspiration for a new La Jolla Playhouse production.
Courtesy photo
The Flaming Lips, whose album "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" is the inspiration for a new La Jolla Playhouse production.

There may or may not be animal costumes, fake blood and inflatable balls on stage. But you can guarantee there will be robots.

The La Jolla Playhouse announced today that "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots", a new musical adapted from the 2002 album of the same title by The Flaming Lips, will have its world premiere in La Jolla.

Des McAnuff, Tony Award-winning director emeritus at the Playhouse, will write and direct, with music and lyrics by (of course) The Flaming Lips, a band known for its whimsical lyrics and flamboyant live performances, complete with over-the-top visuals and on-stage spectacle. The band is no stranger to theatrics. Lead singer and showman extraordinaire Wayne Coyne often channels the role of a mad circus ringleader, orchestrating dancers wearing fuzzy animal costumes and walking on top of the audience inside a giant, clear inflatable ball. Fake blood, confetti and psychedelic projections are all typical elements at Lips shows.


The musical, set to open in November, tells the story of Yoshimi, a young Japanese artist (and, from the song's lyrics, "a black-belt in karate") who is fighting for her life against a fantastical landscape inhabited by robots. According to the Playhouse's website, the musical is "about the triumph of love and optimism over the mystery of our own mortality" and "offers an allegory of our modern battle for progressive thought and individuality in the face of blind acceptance and conformity."

In addition to featuring music from the "Yoshimi" album, the musical will integrate songs from other albums by the band, including “The Soft Bulletin” and “At War with the Mystics”.

U-T San Diego writer James Hebert spoke with Playhouse artistic director Christopher Ashley about the upcoming production, which will have a major multimedia component. "It’s Des McAnuff, so you know it'll have the dazzle factor. There are going to be projections, and Basil Twist (the distinguished puppeteer who has worked on several Playhouse shows) is going to work on the robots. So I think it’ll be spectacular."