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Browse > Media Type > Plays

50 articles

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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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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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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Within the Silence (play)

  • Plays

Solo multimedia piece that tells the story of one family's wartime incarceration experience. Within the Silence was written by Ken Mochizuki in 1998 and produced by Living Voices, a Seattle-based educational theater company that specializes in solo performances that dramatize important historical events aimed at secondary school college audiences. Within the Silence has been performed over 4,000 times in sixteen states by numerous actors before over 200,000 audience members in schools, corporations, libraries, museums, and other venues across the country. A teacher's guide and bibliography to accompany the piece are available through the Living Voices website.

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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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Heart Mountain (play)

  • Plays

Play first produced in 2012 that tells the story of a Japanese American family from Venice, California, and their wartime removal and incarceration at Heart Mountain . The play was conceived and commissioned by Perviz Sawoski, the chair of the Theater Arts Department at Santa Monica City College in Southern California and written by G. Bruce Smith, the school's public information officer and a playwright of over twenty plays. The dramatic play incorporates archival images and dance inspired by Butoh. First produced at the college in November 2012, the play was also selected to be performed at the Kenney Center American College Theater Festival, Region VIII at the Los Angeles Theater Center in February 2013.

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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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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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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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Valley of the Heart (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Drama, History
  • Change versus tradition, Everlasting love, Family – blessing or curse, Love and sacrifice, Patriotism – positive side or complications

Play by Luis Valdez centered on two farm families—one Japanese American and one Mexican American—in Cupertino, California, during World War II.

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Unvanquished (play)

  • Plays

Play by Holly Yasui based on the wartime experiences of her father, Minoru Yasui . The play had its first workshop production in August and September of 1990 at the Annex Theater in Seattle. In July of 1991, it was selected as one of two plays to be workshopped as part of Seattle's Multicultural Playwrights Festival.

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Santa Anita '42 (play)

  • Plays

One of the earliest plays to depict the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans, playwright Allan Knee's Santa Anita '42 premiered off-Broadway in 1975 and was revived in 1986–87.

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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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Hold These Truths (play)

  • Plays

One-person play by Jeanne Sakata centering on Gordon Hirabayashi 's challenge of World War II measures against Japanese Americans. Debuting at East West Players in Los Angeles in 2007 under the title Dawn's Light: The Journey of Gordon Hirabayashi , the ninety-minute play enjoyed a second major production in New York in 2012 as Hold These Truths .

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Old Man River (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Family – blessing or curse, Power of the past, Power of silence, Quest for discovery
  • Available

One-woman play about the playwright's search for the truth about her actor father's life story. Jerry Fujikawa was a successful Nisei actor after World War II who worked steadily in character roles in movies and television and who did well enough to own a home and put three children through college. But after his death in 1983, playwright and performer Cynthia Gates Fujikawa found a picture of her father with a woman who is not her mother and a little girl who looks like her, but is not. Old Man River documents her search for her father's history, in which his wartime incarceration at Manzanar and stint in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team play a key role.

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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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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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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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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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A Jive Bomber's Christmas (play)

  • Plays
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Musical
  • Importance of community, Optimism - power or folly
  • Widely available

Musical play set in a World War II concentration camp by Saachiko and Dom Magwili. First produced for the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) in 1994, A Jive Bomber's Christmas became a holiday tradition in Los Angeles, enjoying a nine-year run and subsequent revivals in Los Angeles and in Hawai'i. The play was based in part on Saachiko Magwili's childhood memories of Heart Mountain and shares a structural similarity with Dom Magwili's earlier Christmas in Camp , first produced at East West Players in 1981.

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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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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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