LA Theater Works Launches ‘JA Civil Liberties’ Podcast Series

Playwright Philip Kan Gotanda, LATW Producing Director Susan Loewenberg, actor/activist George Takei and director Tim Dang held a post-performance discussion of “Sisters Matsumoto” at UCLA’s James Bridges Theater in 2018. (JK YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

LA Theater Works presents the “Japanese American Civil Liberties” podcast series, a new collection of audio theater productions about the Japanese-American experience during and after World War II.

The series is sponsored in part by the California Civil Liberties Program of the California State Library.

Now playing: “Sisters Matsumoto” by Philip Kan Gotanda. Directed by Tim Dang and starring Keiko Agena, June Angela, Ron Bottitta, Kurt Kanazawa, Greg Watanabe and Ryun Yu. Gotanda’s play about three Japanese-American sisters who return to their farm after years in the camp is set in Stockton. Finally back home, the once prosperous family finds it difficult to pick up the debris of their past lives. The podcast features an afterward discussion with playwright, director and special guest George Takei.

LA Theater Works Launches 'JA Civil Liberties' Podcast Series
Back row, from left: Kurt Kanazawa, Ryun Yu, Tim Dang (director), Greg Watanabe, Ron Bottitta. Front row, from left: Keiko Agena, June Angela, Suzy Nakamura. The play was recorded at UCLA’s James Bridges Theater in 2018.

Launch May 30: in the docudrama of Jeanne Sakata “For us all”, a team of lawyers uses a little-known legal subpoena to challenge and reverse the conviction of Fred Korematsu, wrongfully convicted of resisting the mass incarceration of all Japanese Americans on the West Coast in World War II. Directed by Anna Lyse Erikson and starring Edward Asner, Brooke Ishibashi, Tess Lina, Mike McShane, Derek Mio, Joy Osmanski, Jeanne Sakata, André Sogliuzzo, Josh Stamberg, Greg Watanabe and Paul Yen, the episode features a conversation with the playwright and four of the lawyers of the Korematsu v. United States Case: Lori Bannai, Peter Irons, Dale Minami and Don Tamaki.

Coming June 13: “No-no boy” by Ken Narasaki is based on the novel by John Okada. After being imprisoned during the war for resisting conscription, Ichiro returns home to Seattle. There, he is forced to come to terms with both his past and his future. Kurt Kanazawa, Emily Kuroda, John Miyasaki, Ken Narasaki, Sharon Omi, Joy Osmanski, Sab Shimono, Greg Watanabe and Paul Yen star. The production is directed by Anna Lyse Erikson.

Finally, launch June 23: Jessica Kubzansky directs “Hold Fast to These Truths” by Jeanne Sakata. Ryun Yu stars as University of Washington student Gordon Hirabayashi, who fights against government orders to forcibly remove and incarcerate all people of Japanese descent on the West Coast. The episode features an interview with the playwright.

The series can be listened to wherever you get your podcasts. For more information, visit

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