Home Community “The Betrayed” A Virtual Two-Act Play by Hiroshi Kashiwagi

“The Betrayed” A Virtual Two-Act Play by Hiroshi Kashiwagi

Actors Michael Palma and Helen Ota.

“The Betrayed” is a fictional two-act story about a young, Nisei couple who meet at Tule Lake and fall in love, only to be torn apart by two controversial, government-issued “loyalty” questions (“Are you willing to serve in the armed forces… on combat duty… Will you swear unqualified allegiance…”). Forty years later, they meet again and discover their answers to these questions had consequences that affected them for the rest of their lives. It will be performed May 22 as a benefit for the Watsonville Buddhist Temple.

During the post-screening discussion, supporters will have a chance to meet cast members, Helen Ota and Michael Palma. They can also discuss the long-term effects of the loyalty controversy with Dr. Satsuki Ina, a well-known psychotherapist and community activist, and Soji Kashiwagi, Executive Director of Grateful Crane Ensemble and son of Hiroshi Kashiwagi, who passed away in 2019. Grateful Crane is a Japanese-American nonprofit theater group (gratefulcrane.com).

Panelists Satsuki Ina and Soji Kashiwagi.

“As a ‘No-No Boy,’ my dad felt bad about the terrible split these questions caused within our JA community,” said Soji Kashiwagi. “By writing this play, his hope was for reconciliation and a community healing.”

As an internee at the Tule Lake Segregation Concentration Camp, the senior Kashiwagi experienced firsthand the tensions felt between and within the Issei and Nisei generations, brought on by the loyalty questions posed by the government.

The Watsonville Buddhist Temple, on its 20th anniversary, Aug. 1926. Its members were farmers who grew strawberries and sugar beets. During WWII, they were held at the Poston camp. The temple’s membership is declining, as young people leave.

Hiroshi Kashiwagi is true JA treasure. He was a poet, playwright, and actor. As a pioneer figure in the Asian-American art and literature movement, he inspired many younger artists along the way. He attended UCLA and USC and appeared in the documentaries “Rabbit in the Moon” (1999) and “Infinity & Chashu Ramen (2013).” His book, “Swimming in the American: A Memoir and Selected Writings” won an American Book Award in 2005.

Examples of Kashiwagi’s writing follow on page 5.

“The Betrayed,” Saturday, May 22, 2021, 1-3 p.m.

A benefit screening for the Watsonville Buddhist Temple
Donation: $25/person or $50/household (includes play screening and discussion)
Tickets: Eventbrite.com, under “The Betrayed”
Ticket holders will receive an email with the link to the virtual play 48 hours before the showing. They can view the taped play for 36 hours after the live performance. Or contact the Watsonville Buddhist Temple, buddhist@wbtemple.org