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Browse > Media Type > Plays

50 articles

Miss Minidoka 1943 (play)

  • Plays

Two-act musical comedy play set in Minidoka that follows the preparations for a camp beauty contest. The play's timeline parallels that of an actual beauty contest at the camp in January and February 1943, a time that also saw the loyalty questionnaire and the call for volunteers for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The book for the play was written by Seattle attorney Gary Iwamoto, with music and lyrics contributed by Iwamoto along with Richard Lewis, Lisa Pan, Erin Flory, Diane Wong, Ken Kubota, Stan Asis, Masaye Okano Nakagawa, and Brian Higham.

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Old Man River (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Family – blessing or curse, Power of the past, Power of silence, Quest for discovery
  • Available

One-woman play about the playwright's search for the truth about her actor father's life story. Jerry Fujikawa was a successful Nisei actor after World War II who worked steadily in character roles in movies and television and who did well enough to own a home and put three children through college. But after his death in 1983, playwright and performer Cynthia Gates Fujikawa found a picture of her father with a woman who is not her mother and a little girl who looks like her, but is not. Old Man River documents her search for her father's history, in which his wartime incarceration at Manzanar and stint in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team play a key role.

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Station J (play)

  • Plays

Epic three-hour play by Richard France on the wartime exclusion, incarceration, and return of the Shigeta family told in three acts, each consisting of six scenes and a prologue and a epilogue. The play was part of the 1981–82 seasons of both East West Players in Los Angeles and the Pan Asian Repertory Theater in New York; both Asian American theater companies devoted that season to plays on the Japanese American World War II incarceration.

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Unvanquished (play)

  • Plays

Play by Holly Yasui based on the wartime experiences of her father, Minoru Yasui. The play had its first workshop production in August and September of 1990 at the Annex Theater in Seattle. In July of 1991, it was selected as one of two plays to be workshopped as part of Seattle's Multicultural Playwrights Festival.

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What We Could Carry (play)

  • Plays

One-woman show developed by Nikiko Masumoto, based on the testimony of thirteen people from the Los Angeles hearings of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians in 1981. Masumoto developed the 45-minute piece as part of her graduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin in 2011. In 2013, she performed the piece at two Days of Remembrance in California and in various other venues throughout the state. A Yonsei and fourth generation farmer, playwright Masumoto works at her family's organic farm and is the daughter of acclaimed writer and farmer David Mas Masumoto.

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Dear Miss Breed (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Evils of racism, Growing up – pain or pleasure
  • No availability

Play about a San Diego librarian who corresponded with incarcerated Japanese American children during World War II. Playwright Joanne Oppenheim adapted Dear Miss Breed from her children's book Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference.

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Bronzeville (play)

  • Plays

Play by Tim Toyama and Aaron Woolfolk about an African American family moving into Bronzeville—the abandoned Little Tokyo in Los Angeles—during World War II and encountering a Japanese American in hiding.

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E.O. 9066 (play)

  • Plays

Play that tells the story of one family's wartime incarceration through puppets made out of ordinary objects. Performed by the San Francisco Bay area based "object theatre company" Lunatique Fantastique, which was founded by Liebe Wetzel, E.O. 9066 tells its story nearly silently, with objects such a tea set, table cloth, and old suitcase brought to life by company members, dubbed "manipulators." Debuting in 2003, the show was performed at several venues in the Bay Area over the next few years as well as in Utah in 2005 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Topaz, where the play is set.[1]

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Dust Storm (play)

  • Plays

One-person play by Rick Foster inspired by the beating of Issei artist Chiura Obata at Topaz in 1943. Originally produced for Duende, a nonprofit that develops plays about history for schools, Dust Storm was most recently produced in 2013 by Colorado's Theatre Esprit Asia (TEA).

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Harry Kelly (play)

  • Plays

Two-act play by Harold Heifezt set during World War II that dramatizes the romance between Hanako, a young Japanese American outcast woman in a concentration camp who has just lost her parents, and Anyay, a Native American man living in the neighboring "Mojave Indian Reservation." As the play begins, the stage is literally divided down the middle by a barbed wire fence separating the two worlds. The play juxtaposes the romance with the conflicts over the institution of the loyalty questionnaire. Harry Kelly debuted at East West Players (EWP) in Los Angeles on April 4, 1974, in a production directed by Mako. With the support of the California Arts Council, EWP toured the play to various community institutions in California in 1976–77.[1]

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Sisters Matsumoto (play)

  • Plays

Play by acclaimed playwright Philip Kan Gotanda that takes places shortly after the end of World War II and explores the return of three adult sisters to their California farm after their wartime incarceration.

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Uncle Gunjiro's Girlfriend (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Evils of racism, Power of the past, Reunion, Role of Religion – virtue or hypocrisy
  • Limited availability

Performance piece that incorporates storytelling, music, dance, and multimedia elements to expose the secret of Brenda Wong Aoki's family: her great-uncle's marriage to a white woman and the subsequent split in the family.

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Within the Silence (play)

  • Plays

Solo multimedia piece that tells the story of one family's wartime incarceration experience. Within the Silence was written by Ken Mochizuki in 1998 and produced by Living Voices, a Seattle-based educational theater company that specializes in solo performances that dramatize important historical events aimed at secondary school college audiences. Within the Silence has been performed over 4,000 times in sixteen states by numerous actors before over 200,000 audience members in schools, corporations, libraries, museums, and other venues across the country. A teacher's guide and bibliography to accompany the piece are available through the Living Voices website.

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No-No Boy (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Convention and rebellion, Family – blessing or curse, Heroism – real and perceived, Individual versus society, Role of men
  • No availability

2010 play by Ken Narasaki based on John Okada's classic 1957 novel. While the play largely followed the plot of the novel, the decision to change the ending to a "happy" one proved controversial.

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The Nisei Monologues: Children of the Camps (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 9-12
  • Grades 9-12
  • Displacement, Evils of racism, Hazards of passing judgment, Injustice, Patriotism – positive side or complications
  • No availability

Three actor play in which the actors give monologues adapted from actual words of Japanese Americans about incarceration, covering the range of the experience from witnessing Japanese planes flying overhead to attack Pearl Harbor, to the arrests of Issei community leaders, the roundup of Japanese Americans, and resistance and cooperation in the concentration camps. Though most pieces are not attributed, first person narratives by Min Yasui, James Sakamoto, and Joe Kurihara are noted. In between the monologues are stories from Japanese mythology and statements by various government officials both in support of and opposing the forced removal and incarceration.

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The Ancestors' Box (play)

  • Plays

Play for children by Christina Hamlett that takes place during and after World War II and explores the wartime expulsion and incarceration of Japanese Americans. The play centers on Japanese American teenager Amy Sasaki, who is sent to an unspecified American concentration camp with her family, and her best friend Lily Danvers, a white teenager who stays behind. The play's scenes take play just prior to the Sasakis leaving for camp from their home in Anaheim, California, in 1942, upon their return in 1945, and in 2000. The estimated length of a performance is 35 minutes.

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Baseball Saved Us (play)

  • Plays

Musical play for children based on the popular children's book of the same name. Produced by Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre as part of its Adventure Musical Theater Touring Company in 2003, the play went to schools throughout Washington state. Ken Mochizuki, who also authored the children's book, Baseball Saved Us, wrote the script for the play, and Bruce Monroe wrote the music and lyrics. The approximately forty-five minute play tells the story of one family's wartime incarceration and how building a baseball field in camp provided an escape for the imprisoned population.

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Behind Enemy Lines (play)

  • Plays

Play by Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro that tells the story of the Toda family and the travails brought on by their expulsion and incarceration in "assembly center" horse stalls and concentration camp barracks. The loyalty questionnaire splits the family, with one son joining the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and another ending up a renunciant. The play was had its first reading in 1980 and was produced by the Peoples Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1981 and the Pan Asian Repertory Theatre in New York in March of 1982 as part a series of three plays about the Japanese American incarceration.[1]

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Heart Mountain (play)

  • Plays

Play first produced in 2012 that tells the story of a Japanese American family from Venice, California, and their wartime removal and incarceration at Heart Mountain. The play was conceived and commissioned by Perviz Sawoski, the chair of the Theater Arts Department at Santa Monica City College in Southern California and written by G. Bruce Smith, the school's public information officer and a playwright of over twenty plays. The dramatic play incorporates archival images and dance inspired by Butoh. First produced at the college in November 2012, the play was also selected to be performed at the Kenney Center American College Theater Festival, Region VIII at the Los Angeles Theater Center in February 2013.

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Hold These Truths (play)

  • Plays

One-person play by Jeanne Sakata centering on Gordon Hirabayashi's challenge of World War II measures against Japanese Americans. Debuting at East West Players in Los Angeles in 2007 under the title Dawn's Light: The Journey of Gordon Hirabayashi, the ninety-minute play enjoyed a second major production in New York in 2012 as Hold These Truths.

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A Jive Bomber's Christmas (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Musical
  • Importance of community, Optimism - power or folly
  • Widely available

Musical play set in a World War II concentration camp by Saachiko and Dom Magwili. First produced for the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) in 1994, A Jive Bomber's Christmas became a holiday tradition in Los Angeles, enjoying a nine-year run and subsequent revivals in Los Angeles and in Hawai'i. The play was based in part on Saachiko Magwili's childhood memories of Heart Mountain and shares a structural similarity with Dom Magwili's earlier Christmas in Camp, first produced at East West Players in 1981.

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Manzanar: Story of an American Family (play)

  • Plays

Musical play centering on the experiences of the Shimada family, following them from their San Pedro, California, home to the Santa Anita Assembly Center and to Manzanar, told through the eyes of twelve-year-old protagonist Margaret. The play was co-written by Dan Taguchi and Rus McCoy and loosely based on the experiences of Taguchi's mother, who was a child at Manzanar. Various versions of the play have been featured in readings and performances since 2002, but there has been no full production of the play to date.

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The Pink Dress (play)

  • Plays

Children's puppet show that tells the story of a girl incarcerated with her family at Amache. Los Angeles-based playwright and Triumvirate Pi Theater Artistic Director Leslie K. Gray based the play on a story her mother, Tsuki Maruyama, told her about her childhood at Amache. By collaborating with friend and puppeteer Beth Peterson and visiting Amache with her mother, Gray came up with the concept for the play. Returning to Los Angeles, the pair collaborated with other puppeteers Sam Hale, Jamie Kim and Masanari Kawahara on the design and the concept of the show. (All served as puppeteers in the show's premiere engagement).

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Question 27, Question 28 (play)

  • Plays

Two-act documentary play by Chay Yew that was first produced in 2004. The play tells the story of the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans from the West Coast and its aftermath through the voices of a variety of Japanese American and non-Japanese American women. All of the play's lines come from "interviews, transcripts and testimonials" by women who lived through that experience. The cast includes four characters, three Asian and one Caucasian, who read the lines, with the real life figure from whose testimony they come from first identified. Among the many women whose words are used are Yuri Kochiyama, Monica Sone, Mary Tsukamoto, Yoshiko Uchida, and many others, including some non-Japanese Americans such as teacher Eleanor Gerard Sekerak and Eleanor Roosevelt. The title of the play comes from two contentious questions on the so-called loyalty questionnaire administered to the Japanese American detainees in early 1943.

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Rohwer (play)

  • Plays

Play by Lionelle Hamanaka that premiered in March 1982, as part of the New York based Pan Asian Repertory Theatre's 1981–82 season dedicated to plays on the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. The story follows a Japanese American family's incarceration odyssey at the Arkansas concentration camp, focusing on the family patriarch as his traditional authority is stripped away by his prior internment and camp dynamics. The playwright, a native of New York born after the war, learned about her family's incarceration experience in junior high school. The play ran from March 12 to March 21, 1982. The two other plays in the Pan Asian Repertory series were Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro's Behind Enemy Lines and Richard France's Station J.

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