The production's roots come from the end of the Second World War, when "in 1955, a group of 25 women in their teens and twenties who had been disfigured by the nuclear blast at Hiroshima ten years earlier were brought to the United States to undergo reconstructive surgery. Shunned in their native Japan by a society that revered only beauty, these women were referred to as 'hibakusha' meaning 'bomb-affected people.' Keloid scars marred their faces and many of their hands were bent into claw-like positions. In all, 138 surgeries were performed on the 25 women over a period of 18 months. They became known as the 'Hiroshima Maidens,'" according to press notes.
Calling Aphrodite follows two of the "hibakusha" sisters who travel to New York for reconstructive surgeries. They discover that the lead American surgeon treating them also suffered a critical loss during the war, bringing two disparate groups and former enemies together in the humanity of the Hiroshima Maidens Project. The Greek goddess Aphrodite reigns over the proceedings as the embodiment of maternal love, illuminating the possibility of peace.
Playwright Velina Hasu Houston was inspired to write the piece after visiting Hiroshima Peace Park with her children.
Helming the production is ICT artistic director, Shashin Desai, who said in a statement "this is an important story of redemption and forgiveness that promotes harmony and cross-cultural understanding. It humanizes the horrors of war and sends a strong and optimistic message to future generations."
The cast for Calling Aphrodite includes Vivian Bang, Brenda Hattingh, Kym Hoy and Barry Lynch. Completing the design team are Don Llewellyn, set design; Jeremy Pivnick, lighting design; Kim DeShazo, costume design; Bill Georges, sound design and visuals are by Kevin O'Brien.
Calling Aphrodite will run Aug. 31-Sept. 23 at Long Beach Performing Arts Center, located 300 East Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, CA.
Tickets are available by calling (562) 436-4610 or by visiting www.ictlongbeach.org