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Seamless, A Play
February 23, 2020 • 4:00 pm PST
Seamless: A Play about Japanese American Incarceration and the Afterlife of Historical Trauma
Book signing and reception to follow.
Admission is free. Reservations required. RSVP beginning Monday, January 27, at 9 a.m.
Seamless revisits the Japanese American incarceration and dissolution of the American Dream during World War II, exploring the ways the past haunts the present. Written by USC professor Dorinne Kondo and published in her most recent book, Worldmaking: Race, Performance, and the Work of Creativity, the play examines the afterlife of trauma, history, and memory. It also considers the (im)possibility of knowing the people you love most, compelling the audience to question themselves, their families, and their past.
A staged reading of Seamless directed by Tim Dang (Dramatic Arts) will be followed by a conversation with Kondo moderated by USC professor Beth Meyerowitz, an expert on the psychological adjustment among survivors of genocide and on the causes and treatment of post-traumatic stress.
“Sitting at the nexus where critical race theory meets affect theory, this breathtakingly ambitious and fascinating book is as much about how racism functions in the theater world as it is a treatise on the production of race as a naturalized discourse. An important contribution.”—John L. Jackson Jr., author of Thin Description: Ethnography and the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem
“Dorinne Kondo’s penetrating and insightful book should be required reading for any theater artist who is serious about confronting racism. She brilliantly reminds us of the power of the theater, and of the real responsibility that comes with that power.”—Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director of The Public Theater
Dorinne Kondo is a professor of American studies and ethnicity and anthropology and former director of Asian American Studies at USC. She received her PhD in anthropology from Harvard University. Kondo’s plays include (Dis)graceful(l) Conduct, But Can He Dance?, and Seamless. A cultural anthropologist, Kondo’s books include Crafting Selves: Power, Gender, and Discourses of Identity in a Japanese Workplace and About Face: Performing Race in Fashion and Theater. Her new book, Worldmaking: Race, Performance, and the Work of Creativity, theorizes backstage creative labor and bends genre, combining first-person entr’actes, the political-economic mise-en-scène of the theatre industry, and the creative process.
Tim Dang is an adjunct lecturer at the USC School of Dramatic Arts and recipient of the Society of Directors and Choreographers’ Zelda Fichandler Award for transforming the regional theatre arts landscape. He is a Los Angeles County Arts Commissioner and co-chair of the Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative (CEII) for the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture. Dang produced and directed over 100 plays and musicals at East West Players where he was the producing artistic director for 23 years, PanAsian Repertory, Perseverance Theatre, Celebration Theater, and Singapore Repertory Theatre. He recently directed Vietgoneby Qui Nguyen for L.A. Theatre Works.
Beth Meyerowitz is a professor of psychology and preventive medicine at USC. She teaches undergraduate courses on psychological adjustment among survivors of genocide and graduate seminars on the causes and treatment of post-traumatic stress, and her research has included investigations of post-traumatic stress and resilience among survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi. She is currently conducting interviews with memory workers and scholars who engage with genocide survivors, in order to understand the challenges and rewards of doing this work.
Presented by USC Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative. Organized by Dorinne Kondo (American Studies and Ethnicity and Anthropology). Co-sponsored by the USC Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture, USC Shoah Foundation, Department of American Studies and Ethnicity, Department of Anthropology, and Asian Pacific American Students Services.