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Play Focuses on Woman’s Relationship with Grandmother Who Has Dementia

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The cast of “Unforgettable”: Randi Tahara (Keiko), Ami Shimada (Young Keiko), Tracy Lee (Rita), Diane Chernansky (Doctor), Godfrey Flax (Mark), and George Infantado (Joseph).

NORTH HOLLYWOOD – “Unforgettable” is being performed through Oct. 13 at the Brickhouse Theatre, 10950 Peach Grove St. in North Hollywood.

Write Act Repertory’s annual playwrights series returns in its NoHo home, spotlighting prominent, award-winning Los Angeles playwright Rochelle Perry’s play.

When unwilling fashion major Rita (Tracy S. Lee) is forced to spend her last college spring break with her 86-year-old Japanese grandmother (Randi Tahara), she realizes Keiko suffers from a disease she knows little about — dementia.

When Rita was young, her grandmother taught her about the world. Now it’s her turn to remind her grandmother of her past. Through Japanese folktales and fantasy-filled stories, Rita discovers her grandparents’ unforgettable love for each other, a love she hopes to have for herself in this new American generation.

“We are honored that Ms. Perry chose Write Act Rep to present her newly expanded two-act play. She has been an artist-in-residence for 15 years and has been a great ambassador of everything we do at Write Act Rep,” states John Lant, producing artistic director.

“I could not be prouder of the work we do here and the environment of safety we provide for brave voices, like Rochelle’s, that wish to reach out to the community through their writings. Her positive attitude and forward thinking pushing for more female playwright opportunities is one of the reasons we are here.”

The cast also includes George Infantado (Joseph), Ami Shimada (Young Keiko), Godfrey Flax (Marc/Police Officer), and Diane Chernansky (Doctor).

“I fell in love instantly with Perry’s script,” says director Cassie Soliday. “The juxtaposition of a young life ready to begin and an old life’s memory failing is beautiful and heartbreaking. The characters come alive off the page and I can see my own relationship with my grandmother reflected back at me as well as my complicated feelings of aging.

“I’m thrilled to get to explore this space with the talented cast and crew at Write Act Rep.”

The production team also includes Tamra Pica (producer), Isabel Gallegos (costume designer), Jonathan Harrison (associate producer) and Lynn Barzola (graphic designer).

Showtimes: Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. Advance tickets: $15 plus service fee. Order at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4288522. At the door: $20 (cash only).

Randi Tahara (Keiko), Ami Shimada (Young Keiko) and Tracy Lee (Rita).

About the Playwright

Perry conceptualized this play after witnessing her maternal grandparents struggling with dementia. She first workshopped its one-act version, “Japan 1946 Meets California 2010,” at the David Henry Hwang Writers Institute at East West Players. After her staged reading, people commented about her development as a playwright, saying that it was one of the most mature pieces she’d written.

A year later she went on to co-produce it with Write Act Repertory in Hollywood. Since then she has expanded the piece into the full-length play it is today. This is an especially important year to mount this title as it represents the decade-long journey of a conceptual homage to a personal denouement. Earlier this year her grandfather passed away; October marks the month of her grandmother’s birthday followed by her death in 2013, just months after Perry’s wedding. Perry, now 35, also just gave birth to a daughter of her own.

Coming from a diverse background — her Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino heritage mixed with her American upbringing — Perry strives to bring an Asian audience to the theater. A large number of her one-act plays have been produced, but this is her first full-length play to make its world premiere. To follow her endeavors as a playwright, visit her site: http://rochelleperryplaywright.wordpress.com/

Formed in 1998 and under Lant’s artistic leadership since 2003, Write Act Repertory has produced over 60 world or West Coast mainstage premieres and 100 original one-act plays in Los Angeles and New York City. It is dedicated to the development of original plays, lesser-known works by established writers, and adaptations of classical-themed materials and musicals. Write Act Repertory also produces rarely seen works and unfinished musicals by composers who passed before their work was completed. For more information, visit www.writeactrep.org.

Photos by Cassie Soliday

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