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THEATRE REVIEW

september 2017 | Volume 159

 

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JAPANESE PROBLEM
Universal Limited

  • Livestock Building, Hastings Park
    Sept. 22-30
  • Nikkei National Museum, Burnaby
    Oct. 15, Nov. 15-16

www.japaneseproblem.ca
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Japanese Problem marks the 75th anniversary of the Japanese internment with a dramatization in the horse barns at Hastings Park where, 75 years ago, thousands of Japanese-Canadian women and children were held in concrete pens amid the smells of hay and horse piss, separate from their men, while their confiscated homes and goods were being auctioned off, until they could be shipped eastward, away from the coast where many of them had lived for decades.

Created by the Universal Limited collective and directed by Joanna Garfinkle with music composed by Daniel Deorksen, the play shifts from narrative to dramatization, and also uses documentary photos (very effectively) and shadow work (not so effectively) to provide the audience with information about this shameful chapter in Canadian and BC history.

We follow the action from stall to stall in the drafty barns, hearing the stories of a young Japanese-Canadian teacher (Yoshie Bancroft) and nurse (Nicole Yukiko), and an Anglo-Canadian guard (Brent Hirose). The acting is fine, the storytelling mostly very effective, and the site-specific setting really resonates.

This is such an important story that’s so little known. Theatre like this is a great way not only to get the information out there but to get audiences to viscerally experience a tiny something of what it might have been like. A TB outbreak occurs near the end of the play that just seems so inevitable in that place.

The show is sold out for its Hastings Park run but is being remounted in the Nikkei National Museum in Burnaby on October 15 and November 15-16. An exhibit called Hasting Park 1942 also opens there on Sept. 30.

Jerry Wasserman

 

 

 

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Vancouver's arts and culture website providing theatre news, previews and reviews

 

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