Monday, March 23, 2015

The Art of Tradition

Jully Lee, Lawarence Kao, Sab Shimono and Ryun Yu in tokyo fish story.
tokyo fish story is a tale of tradition, ambition and the art of sushi. With the story deeply rooted in Tokyo, Japan, the challenge for the cast is how to create a true representation of another country’s culture and practices. Luckily, South Coast Repertory benefitted with help from Jesse Hiraki of Japan Alliance. The alliance was formed to help bridge the gap between Japanese and Japanese-Americans through culture, events, seminars and collaboration with other non-profit entities.

Japan Alliance Board Members, from the left Bryan Shigekuni, Megumi Yuhara, Jesse Hiraki, Ryan Yamamoto.
That commitment to collaboration brought one of its leaders to SCR as a sushi consultant for tokyo fish story. Self-described as bicultural and bilingual, Hiraki was one of the original founders of Japan Alliance. He came into rehearsals to give his insight on the traditions, sushi and language called for in Kimber Lee’s script. Being a part of the production was a new experience for him.

“It was learning experience for me, but I hope that as much as I learned from the cast and crew about plays, that they were able to take a little something from us on Japanese culture,” Hiraki says. Sitting in on rehearsals, he provided the cast with context for the story, helping the actors find an authenticity for both their characters and the story.

“It was my first experience working with a theatre,” explains Hiraki. “I didn’t want to get too caught up on the right and wrong. My efforts were about providing feedback, and being able to talk to the cast and crew about my cultural perspective.”

Just as Japan Alliance was born out of a goal to overcome the language barrier that often divides communities, Hiraki was able to build an understanding of cultures and tradition between the cast and crew of tokyo fish story and the Japanese culture.

Find out more about Japan Alliance.

Get tickets to tokyo fish story now!

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