The Interlude

The First Floor Theatre
October 7 - October 24, 2004
Thursday – Sunday 8:00pm and 2:30 pm

Written and Directed by: Kim Ima
Performed by : Kim Ima, Glenn L. Cruz, Sarah Hayon, Sam Hurlbut, Lindy Jamil Gomez, Yoshiro Kono, Tristan Roque, Sora Suzuki and Katie Takahashi
Video Design: Adam Larsen
Set Design: Gian Marco Lo Forte
Sound Design: Stefano Zazzera
Costume Design: Melissa Schlactmeyer
Lighting Design: Adam Larsen and Jorge Arroyo


A JAPANESE DAUGHTER REMEMBERS AMERICAN CONCENTRATION CAMPS IN IDAHO.
Race was more important that citizenship during WW II, how about now?
A daughter's need to know her father collides with the role of memory and history in our lives.

Kim Ima's father, as a boy during World War II, spend most of his grade-school years in an American concentration camp--the Minidoka internment facility in Hunt, Idaho. It was a place to which Japanese Americans, their loyalty suspect, were forcibly moved from the West Coast shortly after the outbreak of the war. Their years in the camp were memorialized in a glossy bound yearbook, published in 1943, titled "The Minidoka Interlude." Ms. Ima has created a multimedia theater piece, "The Interlude," to recall this dark episode and to try to understand the legacy of her father's past. La MaMa will present the debut run of the piece October 7 to 24 in its First Floor Theater.

The play uses spoken text, dance, music, film, documentary photography and video to create a collage of stories about life in the camp. Throughout the play Kim, playing herself, searches for an explanation of her father's silence about his past. She decides he must have been a special secret agent working for America. Using both humor and leaps of imagination, Ms. Ima and her company, Cheap & Sneaky Theatricals, perform a look at the lives of the people at Minidoka and Kim's personal journay to connect to her father. It also poses awkward questions: What is the legacy of the camps? How far have we come since?

Altogether, 120,000 people of Japanese descent were imprisoned by Executive Order 9066 during the war; of these, 9,397 were at Minidoka. The play uses an American government newsreel from the period, narrated by a smiling politician, which shows thousands of Japanese families leaving shops, home and businesses that they had been building all their live, only to be driven by coach, and under Army supervision, into the deserts of Idaho. Despite the government's assertion that the "relocated" Japanese were being provided with good food and jobs, the truth is that the food was appalling, conditions squalid, family lives were disrupted, and businesses and savings were lost. Men and women who had spent their lives running their own shops or small business were expected to perform agricultural work for a negligible salary or to occupy themselves with the petty tasks of administering the camps.

The government's reasoning for the detentions was "military necessity." Two thirds of the Japanese people placed in the camps were American citizens and an initial government-sponsored investigation into the potential for Japanese subversion in America had already found no evidence to suggest any threats. During World War II, no Japanese American was ever charged with espionage or sabotage related offenses. But today, old misconceptions and justifications persist. Contemporary rightwing politicians have cited Executive Order 9066 as legitimate and prudent in their defenses of racial profiling since September 11, 2001. The piece raises uncomfortable parallels to current questions of loyalty, nationality, race and freedom in the United States: the "enemy" wears a new face but the old feelings are still here.

Ima has been supported in her project by the Densho Foundation (www.densho.org), an organization parallel to the Shoah Foundation, aimed at recording memories and experiences in the hope that we may learn from the past. The production is also partially funded by some of the money awarded in 1988 to her paternal grandmother as reparations--part of the US government's efforts to atone for the creation and use of the internment camps.

The prisoners' use of the word "interlude" in the title of their Yearbook to describe their period of detention was significant. The authors hoped that the suppression of their rights would be a temporary and reversible aberration, and dedicated their book to "The America of Tomorrow." The preface states, in part:

"We, as residents of the Minidoka Relocation Center at Hunt, Idaho, take pleasure in dedicating this book to the "America of Tomorrow" and reaffirm our faith in the principles and ideals of the founders of the United States. In dedicating this book to the greater America to come….When victory has been won over the forces of aggression and greed, it is our firm conviction that a nation so great, so powerful and so wise whose very foundation of government and principles of living is based on equality and justice, will solve her domestic racial problems in a just and equitable manner."

Kim Ima has made a name for herself as producer, with Greg Pak, of the highly acclaimed independent feature film, "Robot Stories," which the Village Voice called "a genuinely stirring indie rarity." Her own acting credits include Cassandra in "The Trojan Women" (directed by Andrei Serban with music by Elizabeth Swados) at La MaMa E.T.C., "The Seven Deadly Sins" at New York City Opera (directed by Anne Bogart) and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at The National Asian American Theater Company. Her directing credits include "Dancing With My Demons" at the Nuyorican Poet's Café and The Blue Heron Arts Center. Her company, Cheap & Sneaky Theatricals, creates original theater and film projects.

Born to a Jewish mother and a Nisei (second-generation) father, Ms. Ima knows the experience of intolerance from both sides of her family. "The Interlude" is a piece she has been planning for many years. It represents her attempt to counteract the silence and willful ignorance surrounding this dark chapter of America's past. The story of the Japanese internment is under-taught in schools, and is rarely mentioned in mainstream history. One of the few widely seen photographs from the internment depicts a distressed woman clutching her child as she is lead towards the concentration camps. That woman, Fumiko Masunaga, was a close friend of Ima's paternal grandmother, Mary Ima. Both are still alive.

Film footage of Ima's father, Kenji Ima, as he is today, will be shown as part of "The Interlude." Scenes of him as an older man, devoted to gardening and to such mundane habits as eating leftovers, are juxtaposed with Ima's recollections of him when he was so taciturn that she imagined he was a secret agent.

Kim Ima wrote and will direct and perform in "The Interlude." The multi-ethnic cast includes Kim Ima, Glenn Cruz, Sarah Hayon, Sam Hurlbut, Lindy Jamil Gomez, Yoshiro Kono, Tristan Roque, Sora Suzuki and Katie Takahashi. Video design is by Adam Larson, set design is by Gian Marco Lo Forte, sound design is by Stefano Zazzera, costume design is by Melissa Schlactmeyer, and lighting design by Adam Larsen and Jorge Arroyo.

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