George Takei‘s Allegiance opens on Broadway on next month, and the actor explained what fans coming to see the show can expect.
The story “is the story of the Kimura family,” explained Takei, “but it’s the memory of Sam Kimura (Telly Leung, Takei). They were a tightly bound family, a farm family from Salinas, California.”
The Kimura family is sent to an internment camp in Wyoming, where Sam falls in love with a white Army nurse, and his sister Kei (Lea Salonga) falls for a young law student.
“After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, young Japanese-Americans, like all young Americans, rushed to their recruitment centers to volunteer to fight for this country,” said Takei. “This act of patriotism on the part of Japanese-Americans was answered with a slap in the face. They were denied military service and categorized as enemy non-aliens. It was outrageous to call people who are acting on patriotism the enemy. And then to compound that word with non-alien? What is that? It’s the word citizen defined in the negative.
“And then they imprisoned us. A year into the imprisonment, they realized there’s a wartime manpower shortage and they came down with the draft. And the young law student says ‘I will fight for my country as an American, but I will not go as an internee. If I can report to my hometown draft board with my family back home, I will fight for my country, but I will not go as an internee, leaving my family in imprisonment.’ It’s a gutsy and principled and very American posture to take. And, for that, he’s tried for draft evasion and thrown into a federal penitentiary. So, Lea’s character takes over the leadership of the resistors and her brother goes off to fight in a segregated all-Japanese unit. And it’s that fracture that symbolizes the fracture within the whole Japanese-American community. But they ultimately come back together.”
Allegiance opens November 6.