Japanese American Detention Camps: Stories of Strength and Hope (play)
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.
Storyteller Grace "Megumi" Fleming was born in Illinois to a white American missionary father and Japanese mother. Raised mostly in Japan until age ten, the family then moved to Turlock, California. After graduating with an M.S. in clinical psychology and working as a therapist for ten years, she became a professional storyteller in 1995. After learning about the incarceration from Japanese American friends, she interviewed numerous Japanese American former inmates before debuting the show in 1997. Marketing it to schools near her Los Gatos, California, home, she has performed Japanese American Detention Camps at numerous schools in Northern and Central California along with several Days of Remembrance and Tule Lake Pilgrimages . In 2000, she received a grant to create a new camp-centered performance titled The Heart No Longer Silent: Stories with Images from the Japanese American Internment of World War II in collaboration with artist Elaine Sayoko Yoneoka.
Megumi offers Japanese American Detention Camps in 45- or 90-minute versions. In each, the first half consists of her storytelling, with the second half devoted to class discussions with Japanese American former inmates. Among the stories she tells are "Baachan's Shells," from the perspective of a Sansei woman discovering her family incarceration history; "Floodgates of Memory," on a Nisei World War II veterans sharing memories of his wartime experience with a granddaughter; "Jack's Sketches," a dramatization of the story of Nisei cartoonist Jack Matsuoka ; and "Through the Eyes of a Teenager," told from the perspective of a Nisei woman recalling the fun times of her teenage years in camp. Megumi plays the various roles in the stories, donning period attire for the performances.