Manzanar: An American Story


Produced by Stephanie, Manzanar : An American Story was developed under the artistic direction of Kent Nagano, with executive producers Dale Franzen and Richard Walker. The original text was by Philip Kan Gotanda.  Manzanar features original compositions by three composers for a full orchestra, jazz trio, soprano, and a children’s chorus, with several actors and narrators weaving text through the music. Naomi Sekiya, Jean-Pascal Beintus and David Benoit composed the work. Lead funding was provided by  The California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, a Project of the California State Library, and George and Sakaye Aratani.

The Berkeley Symphony premiered the work at UC Santa Cruz May 7, 2005, and at Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley, May 10, 2005, to sold out audiences. The American Youth Symphony performed Manzanar under the auspices of UCLA Live at Royce Hall, UCLA on June 2, 2005, again to a sold out house. Senator Daniel Inouye, Olympic Gold-medalist Kristi Yamaguchi, former California State Librarian Kevin Starr, renowned actor Martin Sheen, and John Cho, Sab Shimono, and Pat Suzuki were in the Royce cast. Manzanar was also broadcast by KMZT radio for NPR.

UCLA LIVE Royce Hall performance: Maestro Nagano, the American Youth Symphony, the David Benoit Trio, the Santa Monica College Manzanar Children’s Choir, and cast

From the script Manzanar: An American Story by Philip Kan Gotanda

Cast members Pat Suzuki, Kristi Yamaguchi, Sab Shimono and John Cho

Martin Sheen and Senator Daniel Inouye of the Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team

Maestro Kent Nagano and the American Youth Symphony

The David Benoit Trio

Composed by Naomi Sekiya, Jean-Pascal Beintus, and David Benoit

On August 10, 1988 President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, apologizing on behalf of the nation for the violations of civil rights and constitutional rights committed by the Internment of 110,000 Japanese Americans after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The Apology stated that a grave injustice was done, motivated by racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a failure of political leadership. Fear and fear mongering still persist, and over and over again, the nation uses race, religion, sexual orientation, and ethnicity to violate civil and constitutional rights. We retell the story of the Internment to each generation, so that we too can say, “Never again.”