Japanese Theater “Make up”
One day I received a phone call from a member of the Japanese American Businessmen’s Association in Seattle (Shunjukai) to inform me that a Japanese theater group was coming to Seattle and that I should promote it in Bellingham and encourage folk to go to Seattle as there would be only one performance in Seattle before the group went on a tour of the nation. I asked who was the promotor of the group and was given their name. I called and asked if the group would be willing to have an “off-Broadway” show in Bellingham as a practice before hitting the big cities. I was informed that if I paid all costs, room for one night for the group, meals, and paid either half the entry fee or $1,000 they would come to Bellingham. I agreed to pay one half of the entry fee feeling that one half of nothing was nothing so if no one showed up we lost nothing.
Then I went to a local motel owned by a Korean couple and asked if they could help me. Since I had been doing a lot for the local Korean community they agreed to host the group at no charge and even offered to bring in food for them. I believe there were six persons in the entourage. I was able to get use of the small theater at Western Washington University (I was then Chairman of the Center for East Asian Studies) at no cost.
Now we had to generate an audience. I immediately contacted my friends at the
Vancouver Konwakai (Japanese Businessmen’s Association) and asked that they advertise the show widely in the Japanese community in Vancouver. They came in droves and filled the theater. In fact we had a larger audience than they had in Seattle. The show “Make Up” featured only one woman on stage the whole time, putting on her make up for a play she was to participate in. It was in Japanese but with English translation projected above the stage so non-Japanese speakers could understand the dialogue. It was a dynamic presentation.
When the play finally was presented in New York City it generated a very positive half-page review in the New York Times. And it all began in Bellingham.
By the way, we made money on the project.