THE PLAY: BITS OF PARADISE

Ariel Kayoko Labasan..........................Yuri Kochiyama (aka "Mary Nakahara")
Douglas N. Hachiya.............................Bill Kochiyama & Various Soldiers of 442nd Infantry
Jacky Jung...........................................Various Crusaders
Zoe Jean Kim.......................................Various Crusaders
Scott Shima..........................................Various Soldiers of 442nd Infantry
Mack Wei.............................................Various Soldiers of 442nd Infantry
Marlan Warren....................................Filmmaker

Photo Credits (above): All photos by Marlan Warren
(Up Left) Ariel Kayoko Labasan (L) and Douglas N. Hachiya (R)
(Up Right) Mack Wei (standing) and Zoe Jean Kim (sitting)
(Down Right) Jacky Jung (sitting) and Scott Shima (standing)


"Bits of Paradise: Kochiyama's Crusaders" will debut as a guest staged reading at
The Rogue Machine Theater
Upstairs in The MET Theatre
1089 N. Oxford Ave.
Los Angeles 90029

Parking 2 blocks East across from Jon's Market in Kaiser lot.
Tix: $10.00

Tickets may be purchased on the Rogue Machine Website or at the door on day of performance.
Wed. July 19, 2017  
3p Matinee                                      
8p Evening

Thurs. July 20, 2017

8pm Evening

And...


SPECIAL BENEFIT PERFORMANCE!

Fri. July 28, 2017!


"Kochiyama's Crusaders" will rock the House to Benefit the
Founders Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in the Church Theater!

Founders Metropolitan Community Church
4607 Prospect Ave.
Los Feliz, CA 90027

Reservations & Tix ($10.00 Donation):

Located in Los Feliz, the Founders Metropolitan Community Church congregation own and maintain the facility used by members of Mount Hollywood Congregational Church who were among the first to  protest the "internment" of innocent people in U.S. concentration camps during World War II. In fact, at the front of the church is a cross made out of wood from a U.S. concentration camp barracks!

Founded in October of 1968, Founders throughout its history has had a longs standing commitment to social justice and standing with people in the margins and made vulnerable by intolerant societies and inhumane laws and policies.  The congregation is the first known Christian faith community anywhere to have had a primary ministry to the LGBTQIA community.  Today the diverse congregants from Founders MCC continue this legacy by celebrating an inclusive faith, serving those in the margins, and seeking a more just and loving community, city and world.


Bits of Paradise Original Cast: San Francisco

Bits of Paradise was showcased at The Marsh Theater in San Francisco in 2008.
Playwright/Producer/Director: Marlan Warren

Chanelle Yang............Mary Nakahara (Young Yuri Kochiyama)
Pisha Warden.............Hatsuye Egami/Crusader
Linda Wang...............Older Yuri Kochiyama/Crusader
Connie Kim...............Crusader
James Franco.............Soldier
Wesley Cayabab........Soldier
Wilton Yu..................Soldier


SUMMARY

Bits of Paradise is a one-act play that celebrates a little-recognized war effort of “interned” Japanese American girls and women who were held behind the barbed wire of U.S. concentration camps during World War II (aka “The Japanese American Internment”) because of their Japanese heritage. Led by 20-year old budding activist, Mary Nakahara, and calling themselves “The Crusaders,” these “prisoners of war” mounted a morale-boosting letter-writing campaign that included fun circulars that went out to “any soldier in need of a letter.” This Women’s Movement began at the start of the “internment” and ended on D-Day. The play moves back and forth in time—from Japanese American soldiers’ letters reporting horrific battle details and their effect on the young women to the future, which includes Reparation Hearings and an interview with octogenarian Mary Nakahara (now renamed “Yuri Kochiyama”) that focuses on her nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize after a lifetime of tireless civil rights activism.

 

PRODUCTION NOTES

Bits of Paradise melds a collage of voices, dance, pantomime, and song. All text is verbatim from actual correspondence in The Crusaders Scrapbook in the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) archives; Reparation Hearing testimony; and interviews. It also features monologues adapted from The Diary of Hatsuye Egami.

Basically, the play is mounted as Readers Theater with three women and three men, separated by barbed wire. The actors play multiple roles (material and characters are composites). They break the structure from time to time to perform dances or narrated pantomimes.

A full production will include back projection photos (actual letters, photos and other archival material) and videos featuring the actual Crusaders, now in their 80s, sharing their memories of this Women's Movement and their experiences as "internees" in U.S. concentration camps. These clips are from the documentary Marlan Warren produced based on Bits of Paradise: What did you do in the War, Mama?: Kochiyama's Crusaders.


Civil Rights, Women’s Rights and Anti-War Themes

Thematically, given these turbulent political times and talk of incarcerating Muslims in U.S. concentration camps, this play is more relevant than ever. In fact, when similar talk occurred in 2001 after 9/11, it was the Japanese American community that was the first to come forward to voice opposition. With Women’s Marches for women’s rights happening across the U.S., Bits of Paradise, serves as a beacon of hope for anyone who wonders how they can survive and transcend oppression.

Although The Crusaders supported their troops, they did not advocate war. In fact, the Japanese American soldiers were forced to fight to prove their “loyalty” while their families were behind held in camps, and many resisted this draft. When Mary Nakahara became Yuri Kochiyama, she said in a TV interview that her greatest wish was for all U.S.-involved wars to end.

 Educational Value

Bits of Paradise is a learning experience on both sides of the footlights. In San Francisco production, the actors were ages 16 to early 20s. Only Pisha Warden had any Japanese heritage (an interned grandmother) and the rest were of various Asian extractions. In working with the material, they had deep revelations on historical and personal levels. A shocking number of people have never heard of the "Japanese American Internment," and if they have, some may be ignorant of the inhumane details (one audience member said after the show, "I thought it was like going to summer camp...").



Yuri Kochiyama had progressive views on women's roles and male/female relationships. These come through in her writing as a Crusader, and the soldiers wrote back their side of the "debate" about pre-marital sex in wartime.


 Target Audiences

Target audiences: Teens, Women, Asian Americans, War Veterans, Asian American Studies and Women’s Studies students, and of course, those families who were directly affected by the Japanese American internment. Audience support in San Francisco ranged from Japanese Americans (who wept) to Korean Americans (Asian Week reviewer) to Chinese Americans and Filipino Americans.

San Francisco audiences—regardless of race or cultural background—were moved by The Crusaders’ story of love and courage. Older people identify with the era, and the younger identify with the joys and sorrows of these brave young people who found a way to transcend oppression. (“It’s not your position in life that counts, it’s your disposition!”)


VIDEO CLIPS

Video clips from Bits of Paradise performance (amateur video by an actor’s husband). We were unable to produce full Readers Theater style with scripts on music stands, so the actors had to hold their scripts. The show ran for two nights.

 

Part I:

YouTube Video


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77xAjg0-nTg

Part II:

YouTube Video


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZaFmh9AoNo

Part III: This is the most serious of the three segments and opens with a verbatim letter written by a Japanese American soldier to a Japanese American chaplain venting his anger and frustration.

YouTube Video


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCJvCjUG5b0

 

 













Comments