“The Betrayed,” a play by Nisei playwright Hiroshi Kashiwagi, will be performed on Saturday, February 26 at 2 p.m. at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center, Toyota Meeting Hall, in Torrance.
Produced by the Grateful Crane Ensemble, the two-act play deals with the real-life conflict caused by two government-issued “loyalty” questions imposed upon Japanese Americans in February 1943, and how these questions separated individuals—and an entire community—into two opposing factions.
“At its core, the play is a love story,” said Soji Kashiwagi, Executive Producer of the Grateful Crane Ensemble, and son of the playwright. “A country boy from California falls in love with a city girl from Seattle at the Tule Lake concentration camp for Japanese Americans during WWII. Everything is fine until they end up on opposite sides of questions #27 and #28, and break up because of it.”
In Act II, 40 years have passed and we meet Tak and Grace again and discover how these questions, and their decisions back in camp affected them for the rest of their lives.
“My father has written a play that shines a light on both sides of controversy, and through these two characters, our hope is to bring much needed understanding and healing to an issue that remains unresolved in our community,” said Kashiwagi.
Directed by Darrell Kunitomi, with original music by Scott Nagatani, the show features Brian Takahashi and Diana Toshiko as the young couple in camp, and Kurt Kuniyoshi and Helen Ota as Tak and Grace 40 years later. Mary Kageyama Nomura, aka the “Songbird of Manzanar,” will also be on hand to sing a special song at the top of the show.
After the show, playwright Hiroshi Kashiwagi and Seattle-based Nisei author Mary Matsuda Gruenewald will present a special post-show panel presentation.
Kashiwagi, 88, will talk about being a “No-No Boy,” and how the stigma attached to it has affected him throughout his life. Gruenewald, 86, will share how a sister of a Nisei veteran was able to reach a new understanding of the “No No” position after researching her autobiography, and listening to Kashiwagi’s story.
After the presentations, audience members will have the opportunity to ask questions and participate in a community dialogue about a subject long-considered “untouchable” within the Japanese American community.
Originally funded by a grant from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program (CCLPEP), the Torrance production of “The Betrayed” is sponsored in part by Hiroshi & Sadako Kashiwagi.
The Torrance Cultural Arts Center is located at 3330 Civic Center Drive in Torrance. Plenty of free parking is available. General admission tickets are $25. Seating is on a first-come, first served basis. For tickets and reservations, call the Grateful Crane hotline at (323) 769-5503. For more information on the Grateful Crane Ensemble, check out its website at www.gratefulcrane.com.