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Bringing Attention to the Internment of Japanese Americans of World War II through Theatre

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Camp Harmony, was one of the acts featured in the production “Finding Home”. It showed an insight into what the Japanese Americans experienced in the American internment camps in 1942. Thoughts and feelings of fear, anxiety, vulnerability, and uncertainty are given faces on the stage.

We follow the Sugimura family as they are affected by the fear and hate from World War II that caused them to be confined. The author, Mailina Tuivaiave, had a lot of passion for this piece. “I was excited to flesh it out,” she said.

“Camp Harmony”, the internment camp were the story is located was in Puyallup, where the current Washington State fair is held. Back then, The Puyallup Assembly Center was a temporary facility for the internment of Japanese Americans.

Every time she passes those grounds, that moment in history always comes to her mind. “I first heard of the Japanese Internment Camps in high school. Puyallup is one of my favorite places, it’s always bright and clean, you’d never think something so shaded and dirty happened there,” says Tuivaiave.

Tuivaiave wanted to spread awareness to something that happened so close to home. She describes herself as someone who wonders about history and loves everything about it. Even letting her mind wonder about the history of roads, buildings, books and people. Writing Camp Harmony was her way of “saying I remember… its remembrance and respect for the past.”

Her perspective of the two children Kiyoko and Akane was intentional for the audience. “I want to inform, to remember and encourage people to lend more credence to children,” she said.

A child’s perspective is the most innocent and raw than any other. Their input could be the most important thing in a situation. “Consider the children, give them a moment, and take a listen,” she said.

Camp Harmony is a work of art by Mailina Tuivaiave that conveys history and true meaning. “People were uprooted from their homes and forced to live here,” she said.

By bringing light to this part of history, Tuivaiave hoped the audience would learn from what has happened in the past and use that lesson towards a better future. “There was no other option. Japanese Internment in America. This was it,” she said.

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