Wakako Yamauchi - Japanese American Soul

Wakako Yamauchi, who died in August 2018 at age 93, was a Nisei playwright whose most celebrated work, And the Soul Shall Dance, has become a staple of the Japanese American theatrical repertoire. Born in California’s Imperial Valley on the brink of the Great Depression, Yamauchi spent the brunt of the war years incarcerated with her family in the Poston, Arizona, internment camp. Mentored there by the writer Hisaye Yamamoto, Yamauchi married after the war, gave birth to a daughter and produced a steady stream of short stories that, beyond the Japanese American community, remained well below the radar. It wasn’t until she was in her 50s that the premiere of Soul at East West Players in Los Angeles launched her career as an internationally recognized playwright.

This series, written by a longtime friend, explores her fascinating life—as a child of Japanese immigrants, a witness to an infamous episode in history, and as a complex and insightful author and human being.

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Part 1: Childhood and the War Years

Wakako Yamauchi, who died on August 16, 2018 at age 93, was a groundbreaking Japanese-American playwright and short story writer. Her first play, And the Soul Shall Dance, based on her eponymous 1964 short story, premiered at East West Players in Los Angeles in 1977. Soul launched her career as a playwright when she was already in her 50s. She went on to write many more plays, including 12-1-A, about her incarceration in the Poston, Arizona, internment camp during World War II. After the war, she married, raised a daughter, got divorced, and lived out the remainder of her life ...

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