by Julio Martinez | LA Stage Insider: May 19, 2011
World War II Theatre Drama Heads To Manzanar by Nicole Collins | LA Splash.com: April 2, 2011
Los Angeles-based Robey Theatre Company will present five encore performances of the play Bronzeville beginning Friday, May 20th, 2011 through Monday, May 23rd at the National Historic Site in Independence-Manzanar.
WHAT: Bronzeville: Five encore performances of this commissioned play
WHO: Co-written by Tim Toyama and Aaron Woolfolk, directed by Ben Guillory. Co-produced by the Robey Theatre Company, the Manzanar
National Historic Site and the Inyo Council for the Arts.
WHERE: Interpretive Center at Manzanar National Historic Site
Hwy 395, Independence CA 93526
10 mi North of Lone Pine, 5 mi South of Independence
- Preview Thursday, May 19th, 2011 at 7 p.m.
- Opens Friday, May 20th at 7 p.m.
- Student Matinees Friday, May 20th and Monday May 23rd at 11 a.m.
- Saturday, May 21st at 7 p.m.
- Sunday May 22nd at 3 pm
- General Admission: $15
- Student Matinees: Free
- Students at Evening or Sunday Matinee: $5 with adult
- Seniors (age 55 or older): $10
Reservations: (213) 489-7402 or (760) 873-8014
Manzanar was the first of ten war relocation centers built for Japanese Americans forcibly excluded from the West Coast during World War II. The site was added to the country’s list of National Historic Sites in 1992. Reconstruction of one Mess Hall and several barracks are underway now under the supervision of National Park Service interpretative staff. Their role is to tell the stories of the 10,000 internees who were held behind barbed wire at Manzanar during the war. Many features including one guard tower from the camp remain and the site’s historic high school auditorium now serves as the interpretive center featuring bookstore, exhibits, and audiovisual programs. The play will be shown there with a Preview Thursday, May 19th at 7 p.m.; Student Matinees on Friday and Monday at 11 a.m.; evening performances Friday and Saturday at 7 pm. and a Sunday Matinee at 3 pm.
Based on true events, Bronzeville was co-written by two playwrights, Japanese American Tim Toyama, and African American Aaron Woolfolk. Set in Los Angeles during the Second World War, the play recounts a story based on true events. Conflict arises when a Black family discovers a young Japanese American man hiding out in the Little Tokyo home the family moves into on their arrival in LA from the Deep South. The young man is determined not to be found and sent to relocation camp. The family knows they should “do the right thing” —but each family member has his or her own idea about what that may be—should they turn him in or continue hiding him?
The name “Bronzeville” was the nickname given LA’s Little Tokyo when the Japanese were forced out and Blacks flooded into LA from the South, changing the district’s hue as Blacks tried to get high-paying war industry factory jobs and escape southern Jim Crow segregation.
The play is being co-produced locally by the Manzanar National Historic Site—Les Inafuku, site Superintendent and the Inyo Council for the Arts, Lynn Cooper, Executive Director. The Robey Theatre Company was co-founded by actors Danny Glover and Ben Guillory in 1994, to produce plays that explore life from a Black perspective. Guillory explains his artistic vision this way:
“One of the theatre’s responsibilities is to tell stories reflecting our relationships as human beings. It is also a medium through which we can explore how we behave towards each other and understand the social and political forces that bring us together or keep us apart. How these influences shape us and the consequences are questions we hope to raise as artists.”
Ten actors, a variety of production designers and a road crew will tackle new set construction, theatrical lighting and sound issues, as they prepare to re-tell the powerful story.
Bronzeville is historically accurate and remains incredibly relevant today as civil liberties and democratic values continue to be challenged. You won’t want to miss this award winning, critically acclaimed production.
During its 2009 premiere run at the Downtown Los Angeles Theatre Center, some audience members who were former internees found the strength to discuss publicly for the first time their own personal experiences and feelings about the internment –sharing what had remained unspoken for decades.
“Director Ben Guillory does a fine job directing this provocative piece. Woolfolk and Toyama’s script is well written and subtly explores philosophical and moral issues that are as relevant today as they were then.”
By Lovell Estell III, LA Weekly
“Bronzeville re-ignites the conflict and social disorder of the West Coast events surrounding Pearl Harbor with insight, dignity, and a touch of charm.”
Sarah Happel, SoCal Magazine
“Perhaps the most interesting scene in the play takes place in slow motion. Have you ever seen an entire scene in a live play in slow motion? It is amazing. No words are spoken, music plays and a pivotal event in the story takes place all in slow motion. A testament to the acting prowess of the cast.”
Review by Nicole Collins, LA Splash.com