The 92-year-old woman in the audience was becoming increasingly agitated. Onstage, she saw confused, well-dressed families being rounded up, tagged and herded onto a train with only the belongings they could carry. They were headed to an unknown location, where they would be forced to strip naked and walk on marked pathways.
Translating a Painful History for Broadway
New Broadway show "Allegiance" tells the story of Japanese American internment during World War II, a Painful History.
Their crime? Being Japanese American.
In the audience, the elderly woman whispered, “This is disgusting!” to her grandson, Robert Chien, who was worried she might create a disturbance in the theater. The story, apparently, hit too close to home: Seven decades earlier, during WWII, she had been forced to flee from Southern California to Colorado to escape an executive order for the internment of Japanese Americans.
As Ms. Salonga learned through her husband’s grandmother, the story it tells—of the period when 120,000 Japanese Americans were ordered to evacuate the West Coast for internment camps—still reverberates painfully through many families. But even though the “Allegiance” actors must inhabit the horrors of wartime and internment, the characters aren’t treated as exotic or foreign. They play baseball, fall in love and fight with family members like anyone else.