Velina Houston’s Adaptation of ‘Little Women’ to Premiere

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Cast members of “Little Women” include (standing, from left) Rosie Narasaki, Jennifer Chang; (seated, from left) Jackie Misaye Lee, Sharon Omi, Nina Mascia. (Photo courtesy Playwrights Arena)

“Little Women,” a world premiere multicultural transposition by Velina Hasu Houston inspired by the Louisa May Alcott novel and directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera, will be presented by Playwrights Arena from Oct. 26 to Nov. 20 at the Chromolume Theatre, 5429 Washington Blvd. in Los Angeles.

In 1949, Josephine Mayeda and her sisters Meg, Amy, and Beth are emerging in the midst of the history of Japanese Americans who found a place for themselves in Los Angeles’ African American neighborhoods after World War II’s forced incarceration camps.

The play features Jeremiah Caleb, Jennifer Chang, Nina Harada, Karen Huie, Rif Hutton, Ken Ivy, Jacqueline Misaye, Ken Narasaki, Rosie Narasaki, Sharon Omi and Peter Pasco.

Houston and Rivera have also collaborated on the world premieres of “Calligraphy,” “Cinnamon Girl,” “The Hotel Play,” and “Tea, with Music.”

The creative team includes Joan Marie Hurwit, producer; Adrian Centeno, dramaturg; Irene Choi, scenic and projection designer; Derek Jones, lighting designer Matt Richter, sound designer; Mylette Nora, costume designer; Raul Clayton Staggs, casting director; and Flor San Roman, stage manager.

Tickets are $25 online (www.playwrightsarena.org) or by calling (800) 838-3006, $30 at the door. Student, senior and group discounts are available.

The Oct. 26 preview and Oct. 27 opening are sold out. Showtimes are Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 4 p.m., Monday at 8 p.m.

Playwrights Arena, of which Rivera is artistic director, is the only theater created and dedicated to discovering, nurturing and producing original works written exclusively by Los Angeles playwrights. For more information, call (213) 925-7631 or email [email protected]

About the Playwright

Houston is an internationally celebrated writer with over 20 commissions in theater and opera. In the U.S. nationwide and globally in Asia and Europe, her work has been produced to critical acclaim at prestigious theaters. She is the first-ever playwright-in-residence at The Pasadena Playhouse, State Theatre of California; and a Fulbright scholar (Fulbright Project, Aoyama Gakuin Daigaku, Tokyo). Current projects are with Los Angeles Opera, The Pasadena Playhouse, TheatreWorks (Palo Alto), Playwrights’ Arena/Center Theatre Group, Now Africa Playwrights’ Festival, and National Public Radio. Honored by The Kennedy Center, Smithsonian Institution, Rockefeller Foundation, Japan Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and others, she founded graduate playwriting studies at the University of Southern California.

At the USC School of Dramatic Arts, she is distinguished professor of dramatic writing, director of dramatic writing, associate dean of faculty, and resident playwright. Currently for USC, she is co-chair of the University Committee on Appointments, Promotion, and Tenure; and chair of its Arts Panel. She also is an associated faculty member of the USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions & Culture; and on the affiliated faculties of East Asian Studies and American Studies & Ethnicity. In 1992, she co-founded Asian American Studies at USC, which has now become a formal program at the university.

Houston served on the U.S. Department of State’s U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange, Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission, and U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation for six years. She is the only U.S. playwright to amass a body of work that explores the U.S.-Japan relationship through a bilateral, global view of identity. She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies and is on the Board of Advisors for the Multiracial Americans of Southern California. In fall 2016, she participated in an international seminar at Kyoto University’s Institute for Research in the Humanities entitled “Trans-Pacific Japanese American Studies,” curated by Professor Yasuko Takezawa.

Her archives are with The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; and The Huntington Library, San Marino. Her blog, Matchabook, is at www.matchabook.wordpress.com. She is married to Peter H. Jones of Manchester, England; and has two children, Kiyoshi and Leilani. For more information, visit www.velinahasuhouston.com.

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