L.A.Theatre Works to Release Audio Theater Recordings About JA Experience

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Top row: Jeanne Sakata, Anna Lyse Erikson (director), Mike McShane; second row: Tess Lina, Paul Yen, Joy Osmanski; third row: André Sogliuzzo, Susan Loewenberg (LATW
producing artistic director), Josh Stamberg; bottom row: Greg Watanabe, Derek Mio, Brooke Ishibashi. (Photo courtesy L.A. Theatre Works)

L.A. Theatre Works has announced two new state-of-the-art audio theater recordings about the Japanese American experience.

Both the LATW-commissioned world premiere of “For Us All” by Jeanne Sakata and “No-No Boy” by Ken Narasaki, adapted from the novel by John Okada, are sponsored by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, a state-funded grant project of the California State Library.

Greg Watanabe stars in two L.A. Theatre Works audio plays about the Japanese American experience, “For Us All” and “No-No Boy.” (Photo by Matt Petit)

Each of the plays features a large ensemble cast, with several members appearing in both. In addition, each playwright is featured in the cast of their respective play. Both productions are directed by Anna Lyse Erikson.

In “For Us All,” an experienced civil rights lawyer teams up with a group of young Japanese American attorneys to use a little-known legal writ to overturn the convictions of men unjustly sentenced for resisting the World War II internment. While the government uses every tactic to make the case go away, the lawyers and their defendant, Fred Korematsu (played by Greg Watanabe), insist on nothing short of justice.

In addition to Watanabe, the cast includes Edward Asner, Brooke Ishibashi, Tess Lina, Mike McShane, Derek Mio, Joy Osmanski, André Sogliuzzo, Josh Stamberg and Paul Yen, as well as playwright Sakata.

“No-No Boy” is set during the aftermath of the U.S. government’s incarceration of 120,000 people of Japanese descent. Watanabe again stars, this time as Ichiro, who, upon his return to Seattle, is finding it difficult to transition to post-war life.

Also in the cast are Sab Shimono as Pa, Sharon Omi as Ma, Emily Kuroda as Mrs. Kanno and Kurt Kanazawa as Taro. Osmanski, Yen and playwright Narasaki each play multiple roles.

Fred Korematsu (seated, center) at a 1983 press conference announcing the reopening of his wartime Supreme Court case, the subject of a LATW-commissioned audio play, “For Us All” by Jeanne Sakata. Also pictured are attorneys Dale Minami (seated, left), Peter Irons (seated, right), Don Tamaki (standing, left), Dennis Hayashi (standing, center) and Lori Bannai (standing, right).

“For Us All” and “No-No Boy” are priced at $20 each and are available now to reserve in advance of their May 5 release date.

Derek Mio (Photo courtesy L.A. Theatre Works)

Purchase of “For Us All” also includes access to a bonus Zoom interview hosted by L.A. Theatre Works Producing Artistic Director Susan Loewenberg and playwright Sakata in conversation with the real-life attorneys who worked on the Korematsu case: Peter Irons, Dale Minami, Don Tamaki and Lori Bannai. A federal judge vacated Korematsu’s wartime conviction and also ruled that the government had given the Supreme Court false and misleading information about the loyalty of Japanese Americans.

According to AudioFile magazine, “L.A. Theatre Works sets the gold standard for fine audio theater recordings.” The Philadelphia Inquirer calls L.A. Theatre Works “a national theatrical treasure.”

Paul Yen (Photo by Matt Petit)

The world’s leading producer of audio theater, L.A. Theatre Works stands apart in its approach to making great theater widely accessible and affordable, bringing plays into homes and classrooms of millions of theater lovers, teachers and students each year. LATW’s syndicated radio theater series broadcasts weekly on public radio stations across the U.S. and daily in China on the Radio Beijing Network. The L.A. Theatre Works catalog of over 500 recorded plays is the largest archive of its kind in the world.

Subscribe to L.A. Theatre Works’ entire nine-play, 2020-21 Digital Season for $150, and receive additional bonus features throughout the season, including a special video conversation with L.A. Theatre Works founding members Edward Asner, Richard Dreyfuss, Hector Elizondo, Stacy Keach, Marsha Mason and JoBeth Williams.

For more information and to purchase either or both recordings, go to https://latw.org/digital-season.

Edward Asner (“The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Lou Grant”), a founding member of L.A. Theatre Works, appears in “For Us All.” (Photo courtesy DeBartolo Performing Arts Center)

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