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Browse > Media Type > Plays

50 articles

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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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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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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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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Little Women (A Multicultural Transposition) (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Coming of age, Desire to escape, Family – blessing or curse, Female roles, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice
  • No availability

Play by Velina Hasu Houston that reimagines Louis May Alcott's 19th century novel Little Women, setting it in early postwar Los Angeles with four Japanese American sisters at its center.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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Innocent When You Dream (play)

  • Plays

Play by Ken Narasaki centering on a dying eighty-year old Nisei man and his recollections of the World War II years.

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Block 8 (play)

  • Plays

Two character play set in Topaz by Matthew Ivan Bennett. A production of the Plan-B Theatre Company of Salt Lake City, Utah, Block 8 premiered on February 20, 2009, at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center's Studio Theatre. The play centers on Ken, a twenty-three year old Nisei from San Francisco who had been a student at the University of California at Berkeley prior to being forcibly removed with his family and incarcerated at Topaz, and Ada, a Mormon woman from Salt Lake City with a son fighting the Pacific who becomes the librarian at Topaz. Initially wary of each other, the two form a surrogate mother/son relationship as Ken struggles with the decision on whether or not to enlist.

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Nihonjin Face (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8
  • Circle of life, Evils of racism, Progress – real or illusion, Wisdom of experience
  • Widely available

Short play for school audiences by Janet Hayakawa and Tere Martínez that juxtaposes the Japanese American incarceration with the Civil Rights Movement and anti-immigrant sentiment in the present.

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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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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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Tondemonai-Never Happen! (play)

  • Plays

Tondemonai—Never Happen!, a two-act play written and directed by Soon-Tek Oh (then referred to as Soon-Taik Oh) that premiered in Los Angeles in 1970, is a theatrical drama that portrays the experience of Koji Murayama, a Nisei who experiences flashbacks to his traumatic wartime experience in the Manzanar camp. Tondemonai is notable not only as the first professionally-staged theatrical work to center on the wartime confinement of Japanese Americans, but for its forward-looking discussion of race and sexuality.

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Tachinoki (play)

  • Plays

Play by acclaimed playwright Robert Schenkkan based on the life of Sumi Seo, a Nisei who was sixteen when she and her family were forcibly removed from their farm in San Pedro, California, during with World War II and incarcerated at the Santa Anita Assembly Center and the Jerome, Arkansas concentration camp. The play opened in the 1987–88 season of the Ensemble Studio Theater in Hollywood, California and premiered on November 12, 1987. Seo worked closely with Schenkkan and director Heidi Helen Davis in the writing and production of the play. The cast included Diana Tanaka as Seo, Amy Hill and Jim Ishida as her parents, and Darrell Kunitomi as her brother Masa. Director Davis, whose Nisei mother had been incarcerated at Minidoka, described the play as "a combination of Brecht, living newspaper, agitprop, and some dramatic scenes."[1] Playwright Schenkkan later won a Pulitzer Prize for The Kentucky Cycle (1992) ...

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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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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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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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Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (play)

  • Plays

Theatrical adaptation of the best selling novel by Jamie Ford, first produced by the Book-It Repertory Theatre in Seattle in 2012. The play proved very popular with audiences and was extended twice.

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Strands (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Evils of racism, Power of the past
  • No availability

One-woman show written and performed by D.H. Naomi Quinones that centers on her Japanese Peruvian grandfather's World War II internment story and her discovery of it. Kiichiro Yoshida was a Japanese Peruvian journalist who was one of over 2,000 Japanese Latin Americans interned in the United States during World War II. Separated from his family, he was not allowed to return to Peru at the end of the war and was instead deported to Japan. Quinones tells the story through video, spoken word poetry, and martial arts. Strands was commissioned by the Asian American Theater Company in association with the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center and was funded in part by a grant from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program. The sixty-minute performance premiered at he SomARTS Cultural Center in San Francisco on May 16, 2002.

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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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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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