“I was born here. I’m from here. I’m American.”
Witness the story of 12-year-old Ben Uchida, a Japanese-American boy whose life is changed forever following the World War II attack on Pearl Harbor. When the U.S. government forces Japanese-American citizens into incarceration camps, Ben and his family must face difficult truths about the idea of home. One young person’s struggle to understand a society allowing mass discrimination against its citizens poses questions as urgent today as they were in the past.
Discussion topics: RESILIENCE, IDENTITY, HISTORY, EXCLUSION
SCT proudly brings this story to young audiences. In our dedication to providing bold, honest narratives to children, we aim to inspire empathy and compassion. Theater is a safe place to explore and honor the past as we prepare for the future.
Eve Alvord Theatre
For Ages 9+
Approximately 1h 10m. No intermission.
This production has past.
“a moving story”
Active Audience Guide
“…a moving story…”
Lessons from the interment camps: op-ed from the Seattle Times
Written by Courtney Sale, Tom Ikeda, and Beth Takekawa
The Seattle Channel profiles The Journal of Ben Uchida: watch the video
The Seattle Channel
Seattle Gay News recommends The Journal of Ben Uchida
Seattle Gay News
For Children & Young Adults:
My Name is Sangoel
Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed
The Name Jar
Save Me a Seat
Baseball Saved Us
After twelve-year-old Sumiko and her Japanese-American family are relocated from their flower farm in southern California to an internment camp, she tries to hold on to her dream of owning a flower shop.
Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience During and After the World War II Internment
Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
Drawing From Memory
Barbed Wire Baseball
Can a love of baseball raise a person’s hope while living under horrific circumstances? The introduction of baseball to his internment camp in World War II did just that for Kenichi Zenimura. Share the story of baseball’s vital role in Ken’s life during and after the war, when he was a professional player.
For Adults Working with Children & Young Adults:
In this wordless graphic novel, a man leaves his homeland and sets off for a new country, where he must build a new life for himself and his family.
A Kid’s Guide to Asian American History: More than 70 Activities
Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II
The Train to Crystal City: FDR’s Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America’s Only Family Internment Camp During World War II
Jan Jarboe Russell
Crystal City was the center of a government program called "quiet passage," under which hundreds of Japanese Americans were exchanged for Americans held behind enemy lines. Jan Russell details a little-known story of how the definition of American citizenship changed under the pressure of war.
Booklist prepared by Lisa Cipolla
Pierce County Library System
We are honored to be presenting The Journal of Ben Uchida: Citizen 13559 as part of our 2017-18 season at the Seattle Children’s Theatre.
The play explores Ben Uchida’s struggle as he attempts to understand a society that allows mass discrimination and injustice against humanity. The incarceration of hundreds of thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II focuses the spotlight on an unjust and shameful episode in American history, and poses questions as urgent today as they were in the past.
As theatre makers for young audiences, it is our responsibility to provide a safe space to examine a scary world. The Journal of Ben Uchida: Citizen 13559 contains sensitive material including racial profiling against Japanese Americans, offensive racial slurs, and suicide of a parent.
We strive to teach our young people to be kind, empathetic, and fair. In the play, they will see examples of offensive racial slurs and racial profiling, making them uncomfortable. Those scenes are representations of the horrific reality of how unfair and damaging racial discrimination can be, and with your assistance, we hope to guide our young audience to understand that this kind of behavior is never acceptable – not then, not now. In the play, after several months of imprisonment, Mr. Uchida, Ben’s father, is changed. After prolonged abuse and desperation within the camp, Mr. Uchida dies by suicide. The creative team is approaching this moment with extreme care and attention. This part of the play is theatricalized through shadow imagery. The moment is potent but not graphic. We want to advise, even with the thoughtful curating of the creative team, this moment, like the scene with racial slurs may cause discomfort. We realize that these topics, and these words, will be upsetting to adults and students alike, but is a reminder to all of us never to accept such injustice.
Theatre allows us to consider powerful alternatives to the realities we see. We have several community outreach strategies happening, including post-play discussions on 2/8 and 2/18; as well as four community dinners to encourage family-to-family dialogue. We encourage you to attend these events as a way to engage with our community and thoughtfully reflect on and process this experience. Our Active Audience Guide will be available online with a complete synopsis and further contextualizing. Additionally we have added resources to this letter to navigate these challenging moments.
Thank you for supporting this production and SCT as we endeavor to build a better world for our children. As Martin Luther King stated, “There is another element that must be present in our struggle that then makes our resistance and nonviolence truly meaningful. That element is reconciliation. Our ultimate end must be the creation of the beloved community.” – Martin Luther King, 4/15/60, Raleigh, NC
Courtney Sale, Artistic Director
26 Children’s Books to Support Conversations on Race, Racism & Resistance:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones</em
Crisis Text Line: 741741
Suicide Prevention Resource Center
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
One America: OneAmerica advances the fundamental principals of democracy and justice at the local, state and national levels by building power within immigrant communities in collaboration with key allies.