CSUMB mounts original WWII play in new World Theater.
Thursday, April 8, 1999
From 1942 to 1945, more than 13,000 Japanese-Americans were held at two internment camps near Rivers, Ariz., on territory belonging to the Pima Indian Nation. For three years, the internees farmed Pima lands, working the soil until it became the largest crop-producing area on the reservation, waiting out the war in the Pacific while their sons donned American uniforms and fought for the country that had sent their families to these desert prisons.
The Japanese-Americans called this place Gila River. And that''s the name of an original play, penned and directed by Lane Nishikawa, that opens this week at California State University at Monterey Bay (CSUMB), the inaugural production at the school''s state-of-the-art World Theater. Nishikawa is an accomplished actor, director and playwright serving as artist-in-residence this year at CSUMB''s Institute for Teledramatic Arts and Technology (TAT).
Nishikawa says Gila River is "a play about unconditional love, about those certain people in your life you will do anything for." It tells the story of an interned Japanese-American family, torn apart by the war, and the Pima Nation residents who worked in the camps and befriended the internees.
Almost every character and event in the play came out of interviews Nishikawa conducted with former internees and Japanese-Americans who fought in the war, and with Native Americans from the neighboring Pima Nation.
The central figures in the play are based on Nishikawa''s own uncle, who worked for U.S. military intelligence during the war, while his family lived under martial law in Hawaii. Two other uncles were sent to relocation camps, and later served with U.S. forces in Germany and the Pacific. Nishikawa based his last play, Gate of Heaven, on his uncle who was with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team that helped liberate Dachau; that show opened in 1996 at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, and then toured nationally.
"Gila River is in its first version," Nishikawa says. He wrote it last year, and did some staged readings in Arizona the week of Feb. 19, the "Day of Remembrance," which commemorates Executive Order 9066, the presidential order that sent Japanese-Americans to internment camps in 1942.
Gila River has been in rehearsal for just over a month at CSUMB, and Nishikawa says he and TAT interim director Eric Hayashi decided to cast all parts without regard to students'' race or ethnic background. "This is truly color-blind casting," he says. "We discussed it ahead of time, and decided it''s a production focused on process, not product. It''s a chance for the actors to work with a professional director, and for me to workshop the show."
Nishikawa''s arrival on campus marks yet another collaboration between him and Hayashi. The two men first met in the mid-''70s, when Nishikawa joined San Francisco''s Asian American Theater Company, which Hayashi had helped found in 1973. They left the company together in 1981 for five years, to tour one of Nishikawa''s shows, and returned to the company in 1986, with Nishikawa as artistic director and Hayashi as executive director. They worked together for eight more seasons, until Hayashi left in 1993 for a two-year position with the National Endowment for the Arts.
When Hayashi took the job as TAT interim director last August, replacing founding director Luis Valdez, who is on leave, he immediately thought of bringing in Nishikawa as a teacher and resident artist. The interdisciplinary TAT curriculum offers classes in film, video and theater, and Nishikawa works in all three media. At CSUMB, for example, he uses a PBS film of his one-man show, I''m On A Mission From Buddha, as a teaching aid.
"Lane''s a good working example of the kind of product-making we encourage in our students," Hayashi says.
For his part, Nishikawa says he''s excited about the multicultural focus of CSUMB''s teledramatics program. Unlike, for example, Stanford''s theater program, which he considers to be somewhat stuck in the dead-white-European-male mode, CSUMB''s department is open to mounting shows about ethnic communities, which give starring roles to non-white student actors.
Nishikawa says that whereas the focus of the Asian American Theater Company 20 years ago "was creating works because nobody cared about people of color," now, 20 years later, "here we are, taking a Japanese-American play, and casting it without regard for color. It''s interesting to watch how American theater has changed in this way." cw
Gila River Wednesday at 8pm. Drama. (See accompanying article). World Theater at CSUMB, Building 68 on 6th Avenue, Marina. $10/general; $6/children; $6/seniors. 582-3750. Through: 4/17.
Cat On a Hot Tin Roof Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm, Sunday at 2pm. Drama. Pac Rep takes on this powerful Tennessee Williams Pulitzer Prize-winning drama of a red-hot family feud in a Mississippi Delta town. Stephen Moorer plays Brick, a once-great high school athlete paralyzed by drink and his own failed sense of self. Julie Hughett is his wife Maggie, a bombshell crushed by her husband''s refusal to share her bed. Len Perry takes center stage as Big Daddy, the all-powerful family patriarch whose imminent demise sets in motion a bitter quarrel for his money and his love. Directed by John Rousseau. Saturday ticket prices are $20/general; $15/students and seniors. Other days, $18/general; $12/students and seniors. Golden Bough Theater, Monte Verde Street between 8th and 9th avenues, Carmel. 622-0700. Through: 4/11.
Toad of Toad Hall Saturday at 2pm, Sunday at 1pm and 3pm. Children. Thomas Burks revives his role as Mr. Toad in the Unicorn Family Fantasy Theatre production of the children''s classic by Kenneth Graham, The Wind in the Willows. Carey Crockett has adapted the tale and woven it into a wonderful children''s play complete with puppets and props, which the Unicorn folks have put on several times, to the delight of local youngsters and their parents. The Hoffman Playhouse, 320 Hoffman Ave., Monterey. $5/general; $5/children; $5/seniors. 649-0259. Through: 4/11.
Two Dozen Red Roses Friday and Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 7pm. Comedy. A love quadrangle is the setting for this modern romantic farce by Kenneth Horne. The confusion is set in motion when roses are delivered to the wrong woman''s house. The plot thickens, subplots emerge, lovers are entangled and mayhem ensues until the inevitable resolution. Directed by Richard Munyon. The Hoffman Playhouse, 320 Hoffman Ave., Monterey. $15/general; $15/children; $15/seniors. 649-0259. Through: 4/11.
How I Learned To Drive Thursday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30pm, Saturday at 2pm. Drama. Winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for drama, this memory play is told through the eyes of Li''l Bit, now in her 30s, as she recalls the sexual affair she had with her Uncle Peck over a seven-year period, when she was 11 to 18 years old. Alternately funny and devastatingly brutal, this Paula Vogel play explores the limits of familial sexual behavior. Can sex between an adult uncle and his teenage niece be "consensual?" Can a child realize the emotional impact she may suffer years later? From the opening scenes of sexual exploration in a car seat, Vogel lets the audience know this won''t be a night of easy entertainment. Kathy Deskin-Jacobs directs Stephen Moorer and Caryne Shea in the lead roles. The Circle Theater in the Golden Bough, Monte Verde Avenue between 8th and 9th streets, Carmel. $18/general; $15/children; $15/seniors. 622-0700. Through: 4/17.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 1999 Season. The Western Stage holds auditions Friday for the contemporary comedy Golf With Alan Shepherd; four men aged 50 or older are needed. Auditions continue Saturday and Sunday for two musicals--The Will Rogers Follies, the story of America''s most famous cowboy philosopher, and Rodgers and Hammerstein''s musical about tradition and change in San Francisco''s Chinese-American community, Flower Drum Song. Both plays offer various roles for dancers, singers and actors. Call the Western Stage Casting Office at 759-6037 to schedule an audition time. Through: 4/11.
Carmel Art Association Opening Reception. Watercolors by Miguel and Miguelin Dominguez, landscapes by William Hannum and Helen Barker. Dolores Street, between 5th and 6th avenues, Carmel. 624-6176. Reception: 4/10, 6pm. Through: 5/5.
Carpenter Hall The Image Makers. Lecture. Art historian Dorothy K. McCall discusses the contributions of 19th-century artists Selma Lagerlof, Karin Larsson and Jenny Nystrom to Scandinavian celebrations and traditions. Carpenter Hall, at the Sunset Center, San Carlos Street between 8th and 9th avenues, Carmel. 624-3996. Lecture: 4/9, 7:30pm.
Chatauqua Hall Good Old Days. Opening Reception. Quilts crafted by members of the Monterey Peninsula Quilters'' Guild are exhibited from Friday night through Sunday. A special small quilt auction takes place on Saturday at 2pm. 16th Street and Central Avenue, Pacific Grove. 373-5776. Reception: 4/9, 7pm. Through: 4/11.
Grove Homescapes Spring Flower Art Show. Opening Reception. Grove Homescapes presents a two-month tribute to spring with floral arrangements and cut flowers, as well as paintings and photographs that depict flowers. 472 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove. 656-0864. Reception: 4/9, 5pm. Through: 5/31.
Hartnell College Seminar Gallery Celebration of the Braincase. Opening Reception. Skull-themed sculpture by Levi Jimenez exploring the artist''s "interests and beliefs in death." Also "The Natural, The Abstract and the In-between," ceramics by Wendy Graham, and "Portrait Images," works in charcoal by Rene Perez. In the Visual Arts Building, 156 Homestead Ave., Salinas. 755-6791. Reception: 4/12, 6pm. Through: 4/16.
Henry Miller Memorial Library Linear Poems, 1953-87. Opening Reception. Small drawings by Bob Nash inspired by the shapes of nature. Highway 1, 1/4-mile south of Nepenthe Restaurant, Big Sur. 667-2574. Reception: 4/11, 2pm. Through: 4/25.
Monterey Museum of Art History of Photography. Class. University of California at Santa Cruz extension course covering the history of photography of California, with a special emphasis on the Monterey Peninsula. Five successive Wednesday nights, beginning on 4/14. Enrollment: $120. Monterey Museum of Art, 559 Pacific St., Monterey. 427-6620. Classes begin: 4/14, 7pm. Call to enroll; class size is limited. Through: 4/14.
Monterey Museum of Art-La Mirada Colorful Expressions. Opening Reception. Landscape paintings by Andrs Morillo, including scenes of the Monterey area. Also "An Intimate View: Photographs by David J. Gubernick," nature photographs. Reception for members of MMA only. 720 Via Mirada, Monterey. 372-3689. Reception: 4/9, 5:30pm. Through: 6/27.
Pacific Grove Art Center A Day in the Life of Pacific Grove. Opening Reception. Paintings, photographs, poems, musical compositions, sculpture and video by artists of all ages that depict life in Pacific Grove. Also, "Mostly Drawings," by Gail Reeves and "Landscapes," paintings by Molly Martin. 568 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove. 375-2208. Reception: 4/9, 7pm. Through: 5/14.
Zantman Art Galleries Opening Reception. Recent works by French artist Roger Bolzonello. 6th Avenue and Mission Street, Carmel. 624-8314. Reception: 4/10, 4pm. Through: 5/14.
Alvarado Gallery The Traveler in the Country: Pleasant Views Within. Exhibit. Paintings of abandoned barns in the Midwest and farm scenes of the Monterey area. At the Monterey Conference Center, 1 Portola Plaza, Monterey. 646-3858. Through: 5/3.
Ansel Adams Gallery Florachromes. Exhibit. "Camera-less" photographs of floral arrangements by Carol Henry. At the Inn at Spanish Bay, 2700 17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach. 375-7215. Through: 4/30.
Center for Photographic Art Duane Michals: Now Becoming Then. Exhibit. Narrative series of photographs telling visual, otherworldly, stories. At the Sunset Center, San Carlos Street and 8th Avenue, Carmel. 625-5181. Through: 4/30.
Fireside Lobby Henry Gilpin. Exhibit. Silver gelatin prints by noted photographer Henry Gilpin. At the Highlands Inn, Highway 1, Carmel. 624-3801. Through: 6/15.
First Murphy House Monterey Peninsula People. Exhibit. Photographs and biographies of people who live in the area by John McCleary. Mission Street and 6th Ave., Carmel. Through: 5/16.
Galeria Tonantzin The Breast of Times. Exhibit. Works in clay by five women artists exploring "a subject that [is] on the minds of most individuals in our culture." 115 3rd St., San Juan Bautista. 623-ARTE. Through: 4/11.
Hartnell College Seminar Gallery Peaceful East Africa. Exhibit. Photographic study of the game preserves of Kenya. Also, sculpture and watercolors by Joy Hector-Batson that "depict her African heritage." Visual Arts Building, Hartnell College, 156 Homestead Ave., Salinas. Through: 4/9.
Marjorie Evans Gallery MPC Photography Student Competitive. Exhibit. Works by students in Monterey Peninsula College''s photography department. At the Sunset Center, San Carlos Street and 8th Avenue, Carmel. 646-4063. Through: 4/30.
Monterey Museum of Art: Civic Center Exhibit. Gerald Wasserman''s "Caff Scenes;" works on paper from the Frost/Hanna Collection. C.S. Price: "Landscape, Image and Spirit." 559 Pacific St., Monterey. 372-5477. Through: 5/9.
PG Museum of Natural History Mysterious Manatees. Exhibit. Photographs and text "intended to improve our understanding of these animals." 165 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove. 648-3116. Through: 4/18.
Richard MacDonald Galleries L''Enfant. Exhibit. The spring exhibition at the gallery features original paintings and drawings, as well as sculpture by Richard MacDonald. Included in the exhibit is his newest release, "Romeo," a part of MacDonald''s "Ballet Suite" series. San Carlos Street, between 5th and 6th avenues, Carmel. 624-8200. Through: 4/25.
Santa Catalina School The World of Lady M. Exhibit. Paintings by Karen Nagano inspired by Japanese court culture and literature. 1500 Mark Thomas Dr., Monterey. 655-9350. Through: 4/18.
Sculpture House and Gardens Figurescapes. Exhibit. Figurative and still life paintings and sculpture by Mike Medow. Highway 1, Carmel Highlands. 624-2476. Through: 4/15.
Seaside City Hall Student Sculpture Competition. Exhibit. The winning sculptures from the Student Sculpture Competition. 440 Harcourt Ave., Seaside. 841-2100. Through: 5/1.
Todd Elliott Fine Art Gallery Exhibit. French etchings by Mi Desmedt. 26362 Carmel Rancho Lane, Carmel. 626-0654. Through: 4/24.
Valley Art Gallery Wood and Stone. Exhibit. Sculptures by Charley Abildgaard. The artist will demonstrate his art during the day on Friday, reception follows. 218 Main St., Salinas. 422-4162. Through: 4/25.
Weston Gallery Works by contemporary photographers including Paul Kozal, Rod Dresser, Tom Hawkins, Tom Baril and others. 6th Avenue, between Dolores and Lincoln streets, Carmel. 624-4453. Through: 5/30.