Stage and Studio
Air date: 
Tue, 05/27/2014 - 11:00am - 11:30am
Short Description: 
Breaking The Silence - a staged reading of a play about three generations of Japanese Americans

Dmae talks with playwright Nikki Nojima Louis who has been featuring her Japanese-American oral history play Breaking The Silence to different communities around the country. Actress and dancer Chisao Hata and actor Larry Toda are featured in the staged reading of Breaking the Silence on 2:30pm on May 31st in collaboration with Portland Center Stage. We'll talk with all three and hear scenes from Louis' play. (Airs 11am Tues 5/27/14 on KBOO 90.7FM)

Playwright Nikki Nojima Louis will be in attendance for the staged reading and a talkback of Breaking The Silence, Saturday, May 31st at 2:30pm at Portland Center Stage'sEllyn Bye Studio.

The free 70-minute reading features music and performances by Michele Fujii & Toru Watanabe of Portland Taiko and actors Chisao Hata, Heath Hyun Houghton, Wynee Hu, Samson Syharath and Larry Toda. Portland Center is located at 128 NW Eleventh AvenuePortland, OR 97209For more info call: 503-445-3700 or visit

Read a story about Louis originally printed in The Asian Reporter newspaper: 

As a Sansei (third generation), Louis was part of the generation that fought for civil rights and redress for incarceration. But even though she was at Minidoka as a child, she knew little of the camp experience. The Issei (first generation), including her parents, rarely talked of their painful past.

Years later Louis attended a talk by Gordon Hirabayashi, a Seattle sociologist who challenged the constitutionality of the wartime imprisonment of Japanese Americans. He took the case all the way to the Supreme Court but lost. Later he was sent to a federal prison for refusing to join the military because of a questionnaire demanding renunciation of allegiance to the emperor of Japan. He argued no other ethnic groups were asked to do this. Louis was so moved by Hirabayashi’s story she started researching the Internment years and wrote Breaking The Silence. The play premiered in 1985 to benefit Hirabayashi’s defense fund for his civil libertiestrial and raised $10,000. Hirabayashi’s conviction was overturned in 1987.

Since then Louis has been traveling to places on both coasts from Seattle to Appalachia with what she calls a “living, breathing” play in order to get people to remember and to learn about this painful time of Asian American history. In each place the play is performed, Louis rewrites the last part of the script to reflect local history.

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