Sunday, February 21, 2010

An Open Letter to Theater Artistic Directors and Literary Managers

We’d like to invite you to what we modestly believe will be a very important play: Our adaptation of John Okada’s NO-NO BOY. Okada’s book, first published in 1957, has been credited with helping to create what was then an entirely new genre of fiction – Asian American fiction. Okada’s novel – angry, despairing, and focused on the kind of self-hatred that the anti-Japanese prejudice during World War II and its aftermath, was unlike anything written before and though it may not have made as large a mark on American culture as, say, A RAISIN IN THE SUN, it was to many Asian American readers in the 1970s and beyond, just as powerful a wake-up call. I know it was for me.
Though a variety of filmmakers have tried to adapt the novel into a screenplay, no one had ever asked for the stage rights before, and we got them from the University of Washington Press two years ago. We began by creating as faithful an adaptation as possible, but working with award-winning director Alberto Isaac and a talented group of actors who helped us hear the adaptation out loud, it became clear that we would have to rework the novel, and over the past two years, we’ve been workshopping and reading the play and we finally have something we feel is both true to the spirit of Okada’s novel, and is an exciting new play that captures the spectrum of emotional responses felt by Japanese Americans returning to the West Coast after internment in American concentration camps, veterans returning from the war, and draft resisters who refused to sign a loyalty oath forced upon them, while speaking to an audience still grappling with issues of war, civil rights, and what it means to be an American in the 21st Century.

We’ve put together an extraordinary cast and a design team made up of artists all working for far less than they normally would because they believe in this piece and this play as much as we do. We believe this production will be exceptional, which is one of the reasons we hope you’ll come see it, but the main reason we'd like to invite you is this: We believe this play, like the book, should have a long life and should be seen by generations to come. We believe that the issues raised in this play are universal and will speak to a broad spectrum of the audience. We believe that you may wish to consider this play for your theater.  We know you're bombarded by submissions; instead of adding another play to your "to be read" pile, why not come to see a production you're almost certain to enjoy?

Please check out our website at: to see our cast and production team. We run Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm at the Miles Memorial Playhouse in Santa Monica, and if you’d like industry tickets, you can call Sharon Omi at: 310.592.1160 or email us at:

Hope to see you soon!

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