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Little Women (A Multicultural Transposition) (play)

Creators: Velina Hasu Houston

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

As the play begins, the four Mayeda sisters have just returned to Los Angeles from Colorado and live with their parents in the pool house of their Chinese American mother's wealthy sister, Auntie Ming. Their Nisei father, Makoto, is a veteran of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and a war hero, but suffers from shell shock and drinks heavily. Fairly well off before the war, the Mayedas had lost everything due to their forced removal to the Amache , Colorado, concentration camp. The feisty Jo is determined to follow her dream to be a writer and often clashes with the more traditional Amy, who only wants to marry a rich husband. They eventually meet their next door neighbor, the retired African-American doctor, Mr. Lawrence, whose grandson, Laurie, immediately takes an interest in Jo. Meanwhile Mr. Bhat, Laurie's South Asian American tutor, courts another sister, Meg. After rebuffing Laurie's attentions, Jo decides to go to New York to follow her dream of writing; there she meets a handsome Mexican American philosophy professor who starts to help her with her writing. But when the fourth sister, the musically talented but painfully shy Beth, has a serious accident, the family is thrown into crisis. Little Women (A Multicultural Transposition) hews closely to the plot of Alcott's novel, with era appropriate adjustments.

Playwright Houston (1957– ), a distinguished professor of dramatic writing at the University of Southern California School of Dramatic Arts, has written numerous produced plays, the best known of which is likely Tea , a story of Japanese war brides and their American husbands based in part on her mother's story. Houston told journalist J.K. Yamamoto that she had first read Alcott's novel when she was in the 4th grade and had seen various movie adaptations and had been "taken" with the story. She was interested in exploring "the shared history of Japanese Americans and African Americans in Los Angeles" and wanted "to transpose the novel into a multicultural landscape… My point is that the story can be anybody and everybody's story." [1]

Little Women (A Multicultural Transposition) premiered on October 27, 2017 at the Chromolume Theatre in Los Angeles.

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho


  1. J.K. Yamamoto, "Playwright Gives 'Little Women' a Multicultural Makeover," Rafu Shimpo , Nov. 16, 2017, 1–2.
Media Details
Date Opened 2017-10-27
Date Closed 2017-11-20
Location Chromolume Theatre, Los Angeles
Writer Velina Hasu Houston
Director Jon Lawrence Rivera
For More Information

For More Information

Official website: .

Velina Hasu Houston website: .

Yamamoto, J.K. " Playwright Gives 'Little Women' a Multicultural Makeover. " Rafu Shimpo , Nov. 16, 2017, 1–2.