Internees to Speak After Performance of ‘Heart Mountain’

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Kelvin Chiang, Yilin Hsu-Wendlandt, Clara Sao and Isaac Choi star as a family interned during World War II in the world premiere production of “Heart Mountain” at SMC. (Photo by Judy Louff)

SANTA MONICA — A free panel discussion featuring former Japanese American World War II camp internees and Japanese American community leaders will be held following the Nov. 4 performance of the Santa Monica College production of “Heart Mountain.”

“Heart Mountain” – a drama that includes dance, music and powerful imagery and tells the story of a family in a World War II Japanese interment camp – is having its world premiere Nov. 2-11 in the SMC Theatre Arts Studio Stage on the main campus, 1900 Pico Blvd.

The panel discussion – and reception with food and beverages – will be held at 4:30 p.m. after the 2 p.m. performance on Sunday. It is sponsored by the SMC Global Citizenship Council and the SMC Theatre Arts Department.

Scheduled to speak are:

Noboru Kamibayashi of Santa Monica, who was interned at the Manzanar and Tule Lake camps in California;

Arnold Maeda of Mar Vista (Manzanar), who is active with the group organizing the Venice Japanese American Memorial Marker;

Brian Maeda of West Los Angeles (Manzanar), whose 2011 grant was approved by the National Park Service to create a documentary, “We Said, ‘No-No’”;

Joyce Masamitsu of Mission Hills (Poston, Ariz.).

In addition, a representative of the Japanese American Citizens League will serve on the panel.

Commissioned by Theatre Arts Department Chair Perviz Sawoski, who is also the director and choreographer, “Heart Mountain” takes its name from one of the wartime internment camps. Although the play follows a fictional family as it struggles to maintain dignity and cohesion in the face of difficult choices of conscience, it was inspired by research that included interviews with Kamibayashi and other former internees, their relatives, and other sources.

Written by G. Bruce Smith, SMC’s public information officer and an award-winning playwright, the play also includes dance and movement inspired by butoh, as well as audio-visual material.

Showtimes are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. An additional 2 p.m. matinee is added for Saturday, Nov. 10. Tickets are $10 in advance and $13 at the door, with a service charge, and can be purchased by calling (310) 434-4319 or by going to www.smc.edu/eventsinfo. Parking is free on Friday evenings and weekends.

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