Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Blogmas Day 13 | Allegiance


I first discovered the musical Allegiance nearly two years ago when one of the play's songs popped up on my Les Mis Pandora station. "With You" was a classic star-crossed lovers ballad that grabbed my attention from the violin entrance. After researching the plot of the play I had never heard of, I knew I had to see it one day. Allegiance is the story of the Kimura family who are placed in internment camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Ojii-chan (George Takei), Pop (Christópheren Nomura), Kei (Lea Salonga) and Sammy (Telly Leung) Kimura are all stripped of their civil liberties before finding themselves imprisoned because of their skin color. At the Heart Mountain camps, the Kimuras meet handfuls of other families who all become close friends.

Allegiance ended its broadway run four short months after its start because of a lack of audience. However, the cast filmed one of its last performances in January 2016 and aired it in movie theaters across the nation for a one-night only showing. I was lucky enough to witness the artwork I've been imagining for almost two years tonight. The play made me laugh, sob, gasp and feel pride in my culture. Even though the internment of Japanese-Americans is difficult to watch, the subject matter is incredibly important in such a time as this. The internment isn't widely known across America, which is a national tragedy. If we don't learn from the past, how can we move forward? Fortunately, George Takei used his voice and his own personal experience growing up in camps to share this missing piece of history.

One of the most incredible parts of the play is the fact that every actor is of Asian descent. No, not every actor is Japanese, but that's okay. Asian people are extremely underrepresented or misrepresented in the entertainment industry. We are known as scientists, mathematicians, CEOs, professors or nerds and nothing more. Allegiance has proved that Asian people are so much more than the stereotypes society has placed on us. We can be emotional, powerful, creative, musical and athletic. While classic broadway performances are filled with caucasian actors, plays like Allegiance and Hamilton have given people of color their chance to shine. Even though the former hasn't had extreme financial success, the exposure Asian actors have received is something to be proud of.

Allegiance is a disturbing piece of history that must be remembered and taught. We cannot let the monstrosities of the past be repeated because of fear. My family members were interned during WWII because they were Japanese and I will personally make sure that their horrors are never forgotten.

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