A Japanese-American family's return home after time in an Arkansas internment camp during World War II is the subject of Philip Kan Gotanda's world-premiere, The Sisters Matsumoto, opening Jan. 11 at the Seattle Repertory Theatre.
The co-production by the Rep, San Jose Repertory Theatre and the Asian American Theatre Company is directed by Sharon Ott. Preview performances began Jan. 4 the Seattle Rep's Leo K Theatre. Performances continue to Feb. 13.
The play takes place in Stockton, CA, the same northern California town where Gotanda grew up, and concerns three sisters from a once-wealthy family who return home to the family farm to find their father, who died in the camp, had sold the estate.
The play is about "survival skills," Gotanda said in production notes. The playwright's parents were held in a U.S. camp during World War II, when Japanese-Americans -- even those born in this country -- were considered threats to national security.
Rep publicist Jeff Fickes told Playbill On-Line Jan. 8 the play's themes are "redefinition" and "reconstruction" -- emotional, national, economic, racial -- for the characters. The play's world includes husbands, lovers, family and neighbors of the sisters on and around the Bay Area farm.
This is the fourth collaboration between Ott and Gotanda, who had worked together on the world premiere of his best-known work, Yankee Dawg You Die, at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre.
The Sisters Matsumoto, co-produced with Asian American Theatre Co., moves to the San Jose Rep April 23-May 23, 1999. The cast is expected to be largely the same, said San Jose Rep publicist Patty Eaton.
The three sisters are played by Kim Miyori, Lisa Li and Michi Barall. Also in the cast are Nelson Mashita, Stan Egi, Ryun Yu and Will Marchetti.
Designers are Kate Edmunds (set), Lydia Tanji (costumes), Nancy Schertler (lighting), Stephen LeGrand (sounds). Original music is by Dan Kuramoto.
Seattle Rep is at the corner of Second and Mercer in the Seattle Center. Tickets are $15-$39. Call (206) 443-2222.
-- By Kenneth Jones