Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Today I'm thankful for: Allegiance

Today (and every day) I'm thankful for the opportunity to see Allegiance.

Allegiance is a musical about the Japanese internment camps during World War II.  I heard about it because I was following George Takei on social media.  Allegiance premiered in San Diego in 2012, then ran for five months on Broadway 2015-2016.  I didn't get a chance to see it during its lamentably short run.

But last Sunday, a recording of the show was broadcast in movie theaters, and I had a chance to see it when Alice and Katherine's great-aunt Robin and great-grandmother volunteered to watch the babies.  The songs were catchy, the performances were excellent, and the themes are as relevant as ever.  

The storytelling is complex: there's no shortage of conflict, but no villains.  Mike Masaoka, a historical figure, could have been an easy target, but instead was portrayed in a nuanced and sympathetic way.  Even the prison wardens come across as victims of tragic circumstances.  

We all have allegiance to our country, our family, and our own integrity, but how does that inform the choices we make?  Sammy and Frankie make different choices, and they're both patriots.  Neither one is wrong, but their inability to reconcile their different choices is what destroys them.  Allegiance is a cautionary tale not just for how we treat immigrants and their families, but also for how we treat those with whom we disagree.

The first movie theater I tried had sold out, and I secured the last two tickets to the second theater I tried.  I hope that means that they will broadcast this excellent play again, so more people will have the opportunity to see it.

This play is extremely important at this moment, and I am thankful.

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