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Browse > Media Type > Plays

50 articles

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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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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Letters to Eve (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Expression through art, Facing darkness, Love and sacrifice, War – glory, necessity, pain, tragedy
  • No availability

Musical play that juxtaposes the experiences of a Japanese American family in Manzanar with that of an African American musician and his Jewish girlfriend held in captivity in a Nazi prison camp.

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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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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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Laughter and False Teeth (play)

  • Plays

One-act play by Hiroshi Kashiwagi first produced in 1954 that is likely the first produced play set in the Japanese American concentration camps. The play was revived years later by Asian American theater companies in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

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Gila River (play)

  • Plays

Play by Lane Nishikawa, set in the Gila River , Arizona, concentration camp, that tells the story of the Wakabayashi family. Told in a flashback after Nisei daughter Mitsue revisits the site in 1972, the play incorporates the arrest and internment of the Issei patriarch, the military service (in the Military Intelligence Service ) of a baseball loving son, and relationships with Native Americans on whose land the camp had been built. The play premiered in 1999 at the Gila River Arts and Crafts Center and has been subsequently performed at the World Theater at California State University at Monterey Bay and the Japan America Theatre in Los Angeles.

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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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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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Gold Watch (play)

  • Plays

A 1972 play by Momoko Iko that was one of the first to take up the wartime mass removal of Japanese Americans from the West Coast.

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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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A Question of Loyalty/The Betrayed (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Fiction
  • Limited availability

Play authored by Nisei playwright Hiroshi Kashiwagi set in Tule Lake and centered on the dilemmas brought on by the loyalty questionnaire . The main characters are Tak Fujimoto, a country boy loosely based on the playwright, and Grace Tamura, a sophisticated city girl from Seattle, who fall in love in the concentration camp. But they are divided by the loyalty questions and go their separate ways. The play's second act is set forty years later, when Grace, a widowed redress activist from Chicago, visits Tak, a divorced farmer in Fresno, prior to a camp reunion.

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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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Justice at War (play)

  • Plays

Play based on the Mitsuye Endo case developed by Theatre Espresso for performance in schools. A short play that takes place in the courtroom, Justice at War: The Story of the Japanese Internment Camps is a fictionalized version of Endo Supreme Court case, including as characters former head of the Western Defense Command General John DeWitt , one of the main architects of the forced exclusion of Japanese Americans; Endo's lawyer James Purcell ; Solicitor General Charles Fahy , who prosecuted the case for the government; Supreme Court Justice Harlan Stone; and Mitsuye Endo. (In the actual Endo case, neither DeWitt, who had by then been replaced as head of the Western Defense Command, nor Endo herself, appeared before the court.) The student audience plays the role of the judges and is asked to decide the questions posed by the case.

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The Camp Dance: The Music and The Memories (play)

  • Plays

Musical play set in an unidentified Japanese American concentration camp that is centered on the high school dances that took place in the camps as one of the centers of social life for teenagers. The play was written by Soji Kashiwagi and produced by the Grateful Crane ensemble in 2003. Grants from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program supported performances of The Camp Dance in eight California cities in 2004, as well as the production of a soundtrack CD. As part of the show, the cast performs a variety of popular songs from the period. In some shows, Mary Nomura , a popular Nisei singer known as the "Songbird of Manzanar" has performed with the cast. Since its inception, The Camp Dance in its original two-hour version and a fifty-minute version has been performed at a variety of venues and events in California and the West including the 2006 …

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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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12-1-A (play)

  • Plays
  • Available

A play by Wakako Yamauchi that was first produced in 1982. Set in the concentration camp in Poston , Arizona—the same camp the author was incarcerated in—from May 1942 to July 1943, the play follows several Japanese American families at Poston as their characters grapple with the loyalty questionnaire , military service, and possible resettlement . The title of the play refers to the camp address of the Tanaka family, block 12, barracks 1, unit A. Yamauchi wrote the play while the Rockefeller Playwright in Residence at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. It premiered on March 11, 1982, at East West Players in Los Angeles, the third of four plays in their "Internment Camp Series". Subsequent productions include Asian American Theater Co, San Francisco (1982); Kumu Kahua Theatre, Honolulu (1990); University of California, Los Angeles (1992); and California State University, Los Angeles (2012).

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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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Christmas in Camp (play)

  • Plays

Musical play set in a Japanese American concentration camp at Christmastime. Christmas in Camp , by playwright Dom Magwili, was the second play in East West Players' 1981–82 season—entitled "Kidoairaku"—in which all four plays centered on the Japanese American incarceration story. It premiered December 10, 1981. The central character is Hannah Sasaki, a disabled teenage girl in camp, whose letters to an older sister who had escaped camp through " voluntary evacuation " propel the story. Hannah ends up organizing a Christmas show to improve morale in the camp. The show, consisting of popular Christmas songs, is then performed for both the camp and theater audiences.

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The Gate of Heaven (play)

  • Plays

Play by Lane Nishikawa and Victor Talmadge about the lifelong friendship between a Nisei who helped liberate a Nazi death camp as a member of the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion and a Holocaust survivor. The main characters, Kiyoshi "Sam" Yamamoto and Leon Ehrlich, are based on the lives of the playwrights' fathers. The play begins in April 1945 and follows the two men over the course of their lives. It was first produced at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego on March 5, 1996. Nishikawa adapted the play into a short dramatic film titled When We Were Warriors, Part I , which he directed and starred in alongside Talmadge.

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The Heart No Longer Silent (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Quest for discovery, Power of the past, Evils of racism, Will to survive
  • No availability

Storytelling performance with digital imagery by storyteller Megumi and artist Elaine Sayoko Yoneoka. Funded by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program , The Heart No Longer Silent: Stories with Images from the Japanese American Internment of World War II was performed several times in Central and Northern California in 2002.

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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 …

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Japanese American Detention Camps: Stories of Strength and Hope (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Quest for discovery, Power of the past, Evils of racism, Will to survive
  • Limited availability

Storytelling performance by Megumi in which she tells stories of the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans from the perspective of various characters. Based on interviews with Japanese American former inmates, she has been performing Japanese American Detention Camps since 1997.

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Conjunto (play)

  • Plays

Play by Oliver Mayer that explores interactions between Japanese, Mexican, and Filipino American farmers and farm workers in California during the World War II years. Min Yamada, a reluctant Nisei farmer in Burbank who dreams of city life, is confronted with the prospect of losing his farm when he and all other West Coast Japanese Americans are forcibly removed to inland concentration camps. He decides to sell the farm to his trusted foreman and friend, Genevevo, a Mexican American. He also arranges for his Issei wife, Shoko, to remain behind, disguised as a Mexican laborer. Returning from incarceration three years later, he finds that much has changed.

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Point of Order: Hirabayashi vs. United States (play)

  • Plays

Dramatic rendering of Gordon Hirabayashi 's challenge of the wartime curfew and exclusion of Japanese Americans from the West Coast by Japanese Canadian playwright R.A. Shiomi. The play debuted at the Asian American Theater Workshop in San Francisco in 1983. Scenes from a performance of the play appear in Steven Okazaki's documentary film on the wartime legal cases, Unfinished Business (1985). A second play on Hirabayashi, Jeanne Sakata's Hold These Truths , premiered at East West Players in Los Angeles in 2007.

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