What does it mean to be Asian in 2022? Faced with the rise of Anti-Asian hate crimes and the continuing need for representation and voice, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Department of Theatre and Dance and Kennedy Theatre will highlight the Asian-American experience both in Hawaiʻi and on the U.S. mainland. The theatre’s 2022–23 season opener, Chinee, Japanee, All Mix Up, is a devised theatre production led and directed by Reiko Ho.
The guest director leads an all-Asian, female-identifying student cast featuring original scenes based on collective personal experiences from the cast, headline news articles and events from the past. This production explores adult themes and includes strong language and references to racism and racial slurs.
“Like a good Asian dish, it is a little salty, a little sweet, a little sour, a little bitter, and very savory,” Ho said. “It is my fervent belief that we must include young people in these important conversations and empower them to grapple with our collective past and present as Asians in America. This show is inspired by that belief.”
Borrowed from a local playground rhyme, Chinee, Japanee, All Mix Up will also feature poems from noted local playwright Lee Tonouchi (also known as “Da Pidgin Guerilla”) in addition to original monologues, scenes, and other various performance pieces by the student performers.
Ticket prices range from $8–$18 for the in-person production at the Earle Ernst Lab Theatre set to premiere September 21–24 at 7:30 p.m. and September 25 at 2 p.m. Some of the subjects raised in the multimedia production range from the Chinese Exclusion Act and the internment camps of World War II to memories from cast members great-grandparents working on Hawaiʻi plantations. Cast members discovered common traditions regardless of being raised throughout Asia, Hawaiʻi, or the continent. However some shared experiences weren’t always pleasant to uncover.
“We cried over how discrimination has found its way into all of our lives and what we have lost by living quietly as the ‘model minority,’” Ho said. “This show is a collage of pieces inspired by our discussions, shared memories and stories, pop-culture, and what the world might look like through an Asian lens. We hope you enjoy our musings.”
Ho is the artistic associate for Honolulu Theatre for Youth (HTY) and part of the Emmy award-winning team creating HTY’s hit T.V. show, The HI Way.
For more information, visit the department’s website.