will soon be coming to your neck of the woods, because it’s a
tour de force. And, it’s another shameful time in American
is both a play and a history lesson of the forcible incarceration of
120,000 Japanese-Americans in 10 U.S. internment camps during World
War II. “Allegiance” is a musical with music and lyrics
by Jay Kuo and a book by Marc Acito, Kuo and Lorenzo Thione. It’s
now appearing in my neck of the woods. It’s inspired by the
true childhood experience of the brilliant and renown George Takei.
you’re a Baby Boomer, you may know Takei as Hikaru Sulu, the
chief helmsman of the Starship Enterprise. Today we know Takei as one
of the country’s leading LGBTQ activists, especially in the
fight for marriage equality. What many of us are now learning about
Takei is his childhood memories of being incarcerated in two Japanese
was 5 years old at the beginning of our internment in Arkansas. I
remember every school morning reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, my
eyes upon the stars and stripes of the flag, but at the same time I
could see from the window the barbed wire and the sentry towers where
guards kept guns trained on us,” Takei wrote in a New York
Times op-ed “Internment, America’s Great Mistake.”
is also about the love of family and country, and the deleterious
effects racial profiling has on innocent Americans.
play takes you into the harsh day-to-day life of the fictional Kimura
family in the internment camps. It reveals some of the daily
indignities many Japanese-American families endured, like no private
bathrooms, being housed in horse stables, and if lucky, housed in
barracks in uninhabitable swamplands like Rohwer, AR, and Tule Lake,
with all families, wars divide its members. Sam Kimura wants to prove
his patriotism by fighting for his country, and his sister, Kei, is
appalled by his decision.
loyalty to the country for Japanese- American males rested solely on
their responses to questions on the “Application for Leave
Clearance” form that registered all male citizens of draft age.
It was also used for volunteers to serve in an all Japanese- American
combat team, which is an important plot in the play. Their
responses-young and old- on the form would seal their family’s
fate in the internment camps. And, these two highly divisive
questions were designed to achieve this goal:
27: Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States
on combat duty, wherever ordered?
28: Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of
America and faithfully defend the United States from any and all
attacks by foreign and domestic forces, and forswear any form of
allegiance or disobedience to the Japanese Emperor, or any other
foreign government, power, or organization?
“no-no” response to the questions as Sam's father gave
sent him to one of the harsher and high-security internment camps,
which happened to Takei’s family, too.
topics of race in this country are too often talked about in black
and white terms, the history of discrimination against other minority
groups gets overlooked. Case in point, the Japanese-American
internment is not talked about and not often taught, if at all, in
American history books. "Allegiance" is both courageous
and dangerous: it speaks truth to power in this xenophobic-stricken
political times of building walls, closing borders and banning
immigrants of color from “shithole” countries.
see “Allegiance’ as my legacy project. It’s my
parents’ story and a tribute to them,” Takei told wicked
“The whole “Allegiance’ experience has brought.”
is a cautionary warning about today. It “challenges us to both
understand what precipitated these events, and make sure these
mistakes are not repeated,” stated Paul Daigneault, Producing
Artistic Director in “Inside Speakeasy.”
the play one can easily see how President Trump’s Executive
Order 13769, titled "Protecting the Nation from Foreign
Terrorist Entry into the United States, "which is referred as
the “Muslim Ban” is eerily reminiscent of FDR’s
1942 Executive Order 9066. The Order 9006 authorized the immediate
incarceration of Japanese- Americans following the bombing of Pearl
Harbor on December 7, 1941.
pulls at not only at your heart-strings but it also questions your
moral compass. Had there not been both music and humor throughtout
the play I would have bawled all through it.