Theatre: Velina Hasu Houston’s “Calligraphy” depicting two aging mothers of an interracial family in Tokyo and Los Angeles, Nov 12 – Dec 12

Theatre Velina Hasu Houston Calligraphy Flyer

Calligraphy
Saturday, November 12 – Sunday, December 12
Thursday – Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday at 3 pm

November 25 will be dark

The Los Angeles Theatre Center
514 S. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 489-0994
www.thelatc.org

Co-producers Playwrights’ Arena & The Latino Theater Company/Los Angeles Theatre Center in association with the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center present the World Premier of Calligraphy written by Velina Hasu Houston and directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera with historical accuracy over-seen by dramaturg Luis Alfaro.

Calligraphy is a play about the humor that survival demands. Two cousins—one in Los Angeles and one in Tokyo—struggle to navigate change and find new ways of defining their femininity as they confront their mothers’ aging.

Blending comedy with drama, Houston explores an international family complicated by interracial marriage, feminism, and culture as the West and East collide and converge in adventurous and challenging ways.

The play stars Melody Butiu, Kevin Daniels, Fran de Leon, Emily Kuroda, and Jeanne Sakata.

Houston is an internationally acclaimed playwright who has written over 30 plays including fifteen commissions in a career that began Off-Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club and the Negro Ensemble Company.

She is a member of Dramatists’ Guild, Writers Guild of America-West, and the League of Professional Theatre Women.

Houston  serves on the US Department of State’s Japan-US Friendship Commission, US-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange, and Japan-US Bridging Foundation.

She served as Research Advisor for Contemporary British, Irish, and American Poetic Drama and Theatre, Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo.

At the University of Southern California School of Theatre, she is founder of the Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing, Professor of Theatre, Associate Dean of Faculty, Director of Dramatic Writing, and Resident Playwright.

Her works are archived in The Library of Congress and The Huntington Library.

www.velinahasuhouston.com

Excerpted notes from the playwright, Velina Hasu Houston

The art of calligraphy in terms of lettering is a meticulous craft that grows refined with experience if discipline and determination are applied.

Life is not dissimilar. We are born, smudge the lines, learn, grow, spill ink, mature, and so forth. Even in the most finely tuned and dedicated effort, ink fades. It is part of aging.

What was created hopefully with love and vigor feels, looks different. But it is still art – sometimes even more valuable than at the time of its creation and vitality.

This play is about identity – who we would like to be, who we are, what we might become. This is explored through the prism of five interconnected lives in a global, transnational family.

As life’s inevitable progressions lay bare their fears and hopes, four women and the spirit of a man who changed the path of their lives irrevocably find themselves at an intersection in which all the questions that love threatens, demands, and hopes for rise to the complicated fore.

Fading ink is one thing that confronts us all – first as the caring and then as those who may need care. This play is but one view of an uncertain truth.

The play was inspired by personal experiences that were augmented with two years of research in the Los Angeles’ Japanese American community and in Japan.

I interviewed caregivers in Tokyo and also visited four types of senior centers in the Atami area. At those centers, I spoke with caregivers as well as those receiving care.

One individual was a retired, one hundred year old formerly prominent geisha. This research enriched my understanding of aging and its impact on identity, the ways that it forces caregivers and cared-for to mediate identity and think more deeply about life.

I return to my original inspiration and infused it with the knowledge that I gained, hoping to intensify and broaden its illuminations.

While I have borrowed from my life some elements of multiethnicity and history, the characters are fictionalized portraits built from experiences, observations, and research.

Calligraphy
Saturday, November 12 – Sunday, December 12
Thursday – Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday at 3 pm

November 25 will be dark

The Los Angeles Theatre Center
514 S. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 489-0994
www.thelatc.org

$35 General Admission
$20 Students & Seniors
$17.50 JACCC Members
$10 Thursday night

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