PERSONAL ESSAY: Tales of Clamor

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“Tales of Clamor” challenges audience members to ask what it takes to collectively speak out and create social change amid racial turmoil.

By IKU KIRIYAMA

“Tales of Clamor” is a theatrical case-study that examines the sound of silence, the echoes of a little-known yet major moment of American history, and its universal reverberation in today’s landscape.

“Tales of Clamor” utilizes aerial apparatuses, scenes based in the present and past, and rarely seen video footage from the 1981 hearings of the CWRIC (Commission of Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians).

Its political texture calls on us to recognize the need for solidarity and the power of a community breaking silence in order to create change. In its emotional core, the show is about people showing up for each other at a critical moment of individual and collective need.

The narrative anchor of this show is the duo of traci (kato-kiriyama) and Kennedy (Kabasares) – who together explore concepts, including the science of sound, the “model minority” myth, and, at the center, the cathartic experience of commission hearings that led to redress in the 1980s and creation of lifelong, intergenerational activists.

traci kato-kiriyama

“Tales of Clamor” is a seven-person play centering around two artists debating cultural versus institutionalized silence. Utilizing ensemble storytelling, circus arts and archival footage from the 1981 CWRIC hearings – nearly 40 years after WWII mass incarceration of Japanese Americans. What does it mean to show up for each other, speak out and generate the collective clamor necessary for social change?

The above is an excerpt on the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) website from a lengthier description of the background of the PULLproject Ensemble, which has culminated in the production of “Tales of Clamor.”

Traci and Kennedy have worked on PULLproject Ensemble since 2008. They’ve received various grants, awards and have toured internationally – with venues including POMO Arts in San Francisco, the National Asian American Theater Festival in Los Angeles, Asian Arts Institute in Philadelphia, Center of Gravity in Toronto, Canada, and CounterPULSE in San Francisco.

“Tales of Clamor” began development in 2015, drawing upon a long-standing relationship with partners, Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress (NCRR) and Visual Communications. It is supported in part by a grant from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program and the Aratani Foundation and made possible with support from Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress, Kinetic Theory Circus Arts, and Visual Communications. It is presented in association with the JACCC.

Kennedy Kabasares

“Tales of Clamor” will open at the Aratani Theatre Black Box on Feb. 1 and will run every weekend, Friday to Monday, with 19 shows until March 3. The performers and audience of 88 are on the stage within a few feet of each other, making for a close and personal connection.

“Tales of Clamor” is an experience to be not only watched but also felt emotionally. For camp survivors, it is cathartic. For camp incarcerees’ descendants, it is a deeper understanding of what their family elders experienced. For everyone else, it is a universal appreciation and understanding that history is not only the past but the present and the future of what happens when we do not each take responsibility.

“Never again is NOW” is truly the anthem of the moment. When I attended a special showing last August, a gentleman at the same table expressed his thoughts perfectly. He is white and Jewish and attended only because a friend invited him. He said, “I thought this was going to be about only Japanese, but it’s about all of us.”

As a proud mother – I am truly impressed by what traci — and Kennedy — have accomplished — I have volunteered to sponsor the 2 p.m. show on Saturday, Feb. 23. As a “thank you” for those who attend this specific show, I am offering a special discount at $30 per seat; $40 is the regular general admission price. You must use the code IKUTOC to get the discount. As an added treat, following the play, there will be a meet-and-greet with the performers and light refreshments.

Reservations may be made online at jaccc.org/talesofclamor or by calling the box office at (213) 680-3700 (or if you’re in town, walk over to the box office during office hours). Reservations will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

For your information, the following dates and times of the 19 shows are: Feb. 1, 8 p.m.; Feb. 2, 2 and 8 p.m.; Feb 3, 5 p.m., (dark Feb. 4); Feb. 8, 8 p.m.; Feb. 9, 2 and 8 p.m.; Feb. 10, 5 p.m.; Feb. 11, 15 and 16, 8 p.m.; Feb. 17, 5 p.m.; Feb. 18 and 22, 8 p.m.; Feb. 23, 2 and 8 p.m.; Feb. 24, 5 p.m.; Feb. 25, 8 p.m.; March 1, 8 p.m.; March 2, 2 and 8 p.m.; March 3, 5 p.m.

The following pricing for all shows (except Feb. 23, 2 p.m. under my sponsorship as noted in article):

$40 general public

$35 members

$37 student/senior non-member

$35 groups of 10 or more

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