Letters To Eve is a classic story of love, friendship, family, and honor. This epic WWII musical follows a Japanese American family and their plight through forced incarceration, a black jazz musician captured during Germany's occupation of France, and the powerful spirit of music and literature. This breathtaking new work will uncover the lost letters of history and paint a pure picture of a fascinating era. Discover the power as these characters decide to stand up for what's right, and create a legacy for the ages!
COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION AWARD - JACL Pacific Southwest District
THE MILES MEMORIAL PLAYHOUSE
The Miles is a Santa Monica treasure. Located in Reed Park just 8 blocks from the Ocean and a few blocks from 3rd Street Promenade, the Historic Playhouse has entertained audiences since 1929. Along with recurring youth programs such as Downbeat 720 and the Santa Monica International Teen Film Festival. They offer world class entertainment every January & February at our intimate "Fireside at the Miles" performance series. The rest of the year we are available to local and regional non-profit performing arts companies and host a wide array of music, dance and theatrical events.
The Miles Memorial Playhouse was designed in 1929 by prominent local architect John Byers in the Spanish Colonial revival style. The building’s sponsor, J. Euclid Miles, was a leading citizen in the development of Santa Monica. In his last will and testament, Miles bequeathed $25,000 to the City to erect a theater “for the children and young men and women” of Santa Monica as a memorial to his daughter, Mary A. Miles.
With its massive wooden beams, plasterwork, gleaming hardwood floors, ironwork details, and grand fireplace, the Playhouse has been enjoyed by generations of Santa Monicans and used almost continually since its inception as a meeting hall and performance venue.
In 1994 the Playhouse was nearly destroyed in the Northridge earthquake, but assisted by the John Ash group and in consultation with the community at large it was fully restored by the City in 1998. Since then it has presented annual cultural programs for youth and adults as well as ongoing public performances by renting nonprofits.
Why Is It Important?
1. We want to show the perseverance of the Japanese American citizens during WWII. Many musicals create archetypes of characters and don’t shed light on the human experience. We want to show these prisoners as friends, fathers, mothers, families, and follow those ‘relationships’, much less their ‘struggle’. Not taking their struggle lightly by any means, that is still a very important part the show, but the audience needs to see these people for who they were, not how we imagined they reacted
2. A Black protagonist using music and hope to be a hero. Not enough shows have black protagonists, and of those shows not many of them carry on in an interracial love story. African Americans have such a rich history, if not the richest history when it comes to using music to handle horrific situations. As Delphine Hirasuna states in her book THE ART OF GAMAN, she relates the connection of art and turmoil, "Confined to an area of one square mile, the internees used art to lift their spirits, reaffirm their humanity, and claim ownership of their imagination". We first find Archie breaking stone in a concentration camp, all the while trying to find a rhythm to the breaking of stone; trying to find some level of musicality to it. Gospel, Jazz, Blues, these are styles of music that demand one to grasp the deeper parts of one’s soul. So with Archie in the picture, the music, the dynamic, the characters are all effected in palpable ways.
3. Sexual Violence against Jewish Women During The Holocaust. Also the title of a great book written by: Sonja M Hedgepeth and Rochelle G Saidel, these atrocities are never expressed in a theatrical forum. In fact, most artistic accounts of the Holocaust don’t shed enough light on these situations. When it comes to war and rape, our society has somehow found a way to lessen its cultural impact. I wanted to use parts of this show to create a dialogue on this subject. Many shows lose their audiences with some sort of message, a broken fourth wall followed by awkward, almost rudimental dialogue with the sole purpose being the author to make sure we ‘understand’. We want the audience to be given clues to such sexual violence taking place, giving them the opportunity to think for themselves; maybe go home and research the matter. Any show that opens a dialogue and gets the audience thinking is a show that can change the world.
4. Germans during WWII as humans, not just Nazis. Partially motivated by the short story, “The Sunflower”, written by Simon Wiesenthal, I wanted to have a Nazi Officer newly skeptical of the Third Reich, more interested in Archie Kyle’s musical talents and much less his race, religion, or class. Flipping an expected archetype again reaffirming our humanity and inherent vulnerability; we are not destined to hate, we are born to love and taught hate. Dierk, the Nazi Officer in Letters To Eve, develops an endearing relationship with Archie and their relationship highlights our capacity to love no matter the circumstance or popular course of action. Also, historically speaking, Jazz music was way more popular and culturally important to the Third Reich as most people know. We don't necessarily see Nazi's as having any artistic capacity but the reality is that they did, they really did. Jazz and music was not only popular but it was as much a staple in how one presented their class and intelligence as monetary advantages. Again drawing a parallel to all cultures having a deeper connection to things other races and classes have connections to.
5. The importance of writing; writing your story. This was one of the first themes of the show. Ray, our main protagonist (from the Japanese Incarceration camps) has a special bond with his father. They share stories and Ray’s father presses the importance of writing one's story and living life with memory in mind. I believe everyone can be a writer and if we put pen to paper we can make a difference. If it's sending a love letter to someone or finishing an autobiography, writing can cement one’s history.
6. Music as a tool to help one deal with horrific situations.
7. Music, rhythm, and poetry as a form of communication that binds all race, religion, country, class, and gender together.
8. Education. These pieces of history are too often left out of the classroom. For those rare classrooms that do provide minimal curriculum, it is too often half a page worth of history. We need to educate all ages on the comfort in fear and how it is used to manipulate perspectives. We are developing a workshop series to more easily reach out to younger ages.
*All Donations will be to The Zoo Theatre Company, the company producing Letters To Eve
CAST AND CREW
Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute
The Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute (GVJCI) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit community center housing various classes, services, and programs for seniors, non-senior adults, and youth in the South Bay for over 40 years. Our mission is to serve the needs of the local Japanese American community through educational, cultural, and social programs that share the Japanese and Japanese American cultural heritage.
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Letters To Eve performed it's world premiere workshop event with The Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute! Saturday, September, 17th, during a one night only cultural event dedicated to families affected by President Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066; an order that sent hundreds of thousands of Japanese American citizens into relocation camps. It was a night filled with special musical selections from 'Letters To Eve' and true life accounts written by members of the community.
Official Partners with:
FEATURED PROGRAM: GO FOR BROKE NATIONAL EDUCATION CENTER
Their mission: "To educate and inspire character and equality through the virtue and valor of our World War II American Veterans of Japanese Ancestry" - Go For Broke National Education Center
Because the Zoo Theatre Company believes in the importance of honest historical education, we feel honored to represent this fantastic establishment by carrying the torch of their mission. We will be donating 1$ of every ticket sold directly to this center, to ensure that we aid in the movement to dedicate resources to building strong characters; inspiring our youth.
About the Center:
In May of 2016, GFBNEC opened a new educational exhibition about the Japanese American soldier legacy within the broader context of the Japanese American experience of World War II called Go For Broke National Education Center’s De ning Courage Exhibition. Located in the Nishi Hongwanji building in the Little Tokyo Historic District of Los Angeles, the 3,800 square foot permanent exhibition examines this chapter of history from a contemporary perspective that incorporates issues facing our communities and nation today.
Defining Courage encourages dialogue and critical thinking about tolerance and social justice in a democratic society, stimulates civic awareness, and fosters empowerment
Letters To Eve was honored with performing some select numbers at the Japanese American National Museum's NATSUMATSURI FAMILY FESTIVAL.
Below is a clip from the performance. Please follow them on Facebook and Instagram as well as donating to their historic establishment.
Instagram - @JAMUSEUM
FACEBOOK - Click Link - JANM FACEBOOK PAGE
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Letters To Eve Cast performing 'America's Finest'
German-American League of Los Angeles
We are humbled by the support shown by the German-American League Of Los Angeles for continuing to fight for the education of our community. Learn from the past, embrace the present and build a better future.