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Browse > Media Type > Plays

50 articles

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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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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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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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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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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Citizen 13559 (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8

Play for children by Naomi Iizuka, based on the children's book The Journal of Ben Uchida: Citizen 13559, Mirror Lake Internment Camp by Barry Denenberg. The story focuses on the wartime experiences of twelve-year-old Ben Uchida, whose family is incarcerated at the fictional "Mirror Lake" camp in Wisconsin. After workshop productions at the Kennedy Center and the Mark Taper Forum's Asian Theatre Workshop, the hour-long play premiered in March 2006 as part of the Kennedy Center Family Theater's first season.

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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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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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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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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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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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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 …

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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