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Friday, July 21, 2017

Theme of Tolerance Featured for Charity

As many of my subscribers and visitors know, tolerance is a theme deeply imbedded in my creative work and some of my nonfiction as well (Consider my crusade against #bookbigotry in my advocacy for authors!).  One of my special friends finished a run of her play (once a movie!) with a special showing for charity on July 28th (see below for details).  Here she tells a bit about her extraordinary trek in the writing and production of this play. It is well worth hearing--as inspiration for your own important creative work and to take on as a project to find ways for this play and its message to be seen even more widely.  Please take a moment to learn more about Marlan Warren and Yuri Kochiyama's never-give-up approach to the lessons of history. 

"The work of the Crusaders, although obscure and unknown, was a means by which young people in confinement were able to prove that no physical boundaries could stop them from transcending beyond the 'barbed wires.' - Yuri Kochiyama (aka "Mary Nakahara")  

Play Title: "Bits of Paradise: Kochiyama's Crusaders"
Playwright/Director/Co-Producer/Actor: Marlan Warren
Co-Collaborator/Actor/Co-Producer: Ariel Kayoko Labasan
Cast: Ariel Kayoko Labasan, Douglas N. Hachiya; Scott Shima; Mack Wei; Jacky Jung; Zoë Kim and Marlan Warren. 

Location: Founders Metropolitan Community Church, 4607 Prospect Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90027
(Los Feliz) in Church Theater.

Dates & Time: July 28, 2017 at 8pm (Doors open at 7pm - Nibbles and Silent Auction Before Play)

Donation: $10.00  Reservations: E-Mail rogerowens@mccla.org

Press: Reporters & Reviewers Contact Rev. Dr. Kevin L. Downer, Interim Senior Pastor
Founders MCC / ICM Fundadora
Worship Sundays @ 9a, 11a, 1:30p En Espanoland online at www.mccla.org

Skype and Facebook rev.kevin.downer


This performance is a Benefit for MCC. The church originally housed the Mount Hollywood Congregational Church (see below for details) whose members protested the "internment" of innocent people in U.S. concentration camps during WWII. And, in fact, at the front of the church is a cross made out of wood from a U.S. concentration camp barracks!

Founded in October of 1968, Founders throughout its history has had a long standing commitment to social justice and standing with people in the margins and made vulnerable by intolerant societies and inhumane laws and policies.  The congregation is the first known Christian faith community anywhere to have had a primary ministry to the LGBTQIA community.  Today the diverse congregants from Founders MCC continue this legacy by celebrating an inclusive faith, serving those in the margins, and seeking a more just and loving community, city and world. 


Play Websitehttp://bit.ly/2tSXRto
Bits of Paradise: Kochiyama's Crusaders, by Marlan Warren in collaboration with Ariel Kayoko Labasan, focuses on a women's movement founded by renowned human rights activist Yuri Kochiyama when she was known as 20-year old "Mary Nakahara" and incarcerated in U.S. concentration camps during World War II with her fellow Japanese Americans. Calling themselves "The Crusaders," the girls and women mobilized a morale-boosting letter-writing campaign that ensured that "any soldier missing a letter" would receive mail. 

"The performances will be more 'staged' than 'reading,'" explained Warren, who co-produces with Labasan, and directs the play. "Some actors may not be holding scripts, and there will be action sequences, props and costumes."

Warren originally directed and produced Bits of Paradiseas a Reader's Theater piece at The Marsh Theatre in San Francisco in 2008.

Recently, the play was reworked and re-titled Bits of Paradise: Kochiyama's Crusaders, after Warren joined forces with actor/playwright Ariel Kayoko Labasan, whose solo show, "Yuri Speaks Out!" played to packed houses at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Labasan will reprise her role as Yuri Kochiyama, portraying the activist from ages 20 to 84.

"My first encounter with Yuri Kochiyama was while I was in New York," said Labasan. "As an actor, I was seeking out roles that made me feel braver. I searched online for 'strong Asian American women in history'...and suddenly she popped up!"

"We wish to thank Rogue Machine Theatre for this amazing opportunity," said Warren. "They are currently featuring 'Les Blancs' by Lorraine Hansberry, and their set looks exactly like the interior of a Japanese American Internment barracks."

"Before she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and before she held Malcolm X while he lay dying and before she occupied the Statue of Liberty in protest of injustice, Yuri Kochiyama was a young woman in love named Mary Nakahara whose fiancé, Bill Kochiyama, had volunteered to fight in order to prove loyalty to the U.S. while the people he loved were held in an American concentration camp.

"It sounds like a very dark time, and in fact it was," said Warren. "But the contents of The Crusaders Scrapbook in the Japanese American National Museum are full of humor and cheer and flirtations." In 2001, Warren was granted permission by JANM to adapt the scrapbook into a play for educational purposes.

The cast members are a mix of Asian American heritage, including two--Douglas N. Hachiya and Scott Shima--who have family members who fought in the legendary 442nd Combat Team. 
The play is an ensemble effort, as Warren notes: "Actor Mack Wei has outfitted the men with uniforms and rifles from a short film he made, and Progressive Rags print shop owner, Radical Jack, in Miami, Fla. has donated three 'Free Mumia Abul-Jamal' t-shirts for Yuri to wear." 

The young women playing The Crusaders will also appear as octogenarians being interviewed for a documentary. In fact, Warren has been making a film with the elderly "Original Crusaders" since 2008 ("What did you do in the War, Mama?: Kochiyama's Crusaders"). The women in the film are Yuri Kochiyama, Ruth Ishizaki, Patricia Goto Takeshita, and Rinko Shimasaki.

"Working with this material has been a healing process," said Warren. "For those whose family history incurred these scars, it is very personal. And for those of us who feel empathetic with its story of loss and love, it is also very meaningful."


Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s first novel, This is the Place, is a story about how even subtle intolerance can be destructive. No longer in print but available on Amazon's New and Used Feature, it won eight awards.  Her book of creative nonfiction, Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered, won three. Her fiction, nonfiction and poems have appeared in national magazines, anthologies and review journals. A chapbook of poetry, Tracings, was named to the Compulsive Reader’s Ten Best Reads list and was given the Military Writers’ Society of America’s Silver Award of Excellence. Her most recent book of poetry is Imperfect Echoes, which was released to rave reviews from Midwest Book Reviews. She speaks on Utah’s culture, tolerance, and book promotion and editing and has appeared on TV and hundreds of radio stations nationwide. The first edition of The Frugal Book Promoter was named USA Book News’ “Best Professional Book” and the Irwin Award. The second edition is also a USA Book News award winner. Her TheFrugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and EnsureSuccess also won a nod from USA Book News and won Readers’ Views Literary Award. Her marketing campaign for that book won the marketing award from New Generation Indie Book Awards. The latest book in that series is How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically.

Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, the Book Publicists of Southern California’s Irwin Award and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of fourteen women of “San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen.” She is also an instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program

The author loves to travel. She has visited eighty-four countries and has studied at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University, Prague. She admits to carrying a pen and journal wherever she goes. Her website is www.howtodoitfrugally.com.

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