Jude Narita and Friends
Taking place at a local Santa Monica theatre, only blocks away from the buzzing Third Street Promenade, Jude Narita's one-woman show introduces five women whose voices have been silenced to the point of gathering dust.
by Naomi Iwamoto
Date Published: 12/17/2009
If there was any doubt that one actor could capture the very private moments of five women from very different generations, ethnicities and political climates, Jude Narita puts those doubts to rest, with a smile.
In her one-woman play From the Heart, each story puts the spotlight on a woman who too often feels invisible. First, we meet Miyhan, a recent transplant from Korea as she struggles through ESL courses at her new American high school and is introduced to Jazz through her first American friend. Next, we run side by side with a little girl in Hiroshima as she flees the destruction of the atomic bomb and eventually perishes with the rest of her village. In "Dream Mountain," we relive the trauma of a Cambodian woman as she watches her family be punished for their protests, at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, teaching her to relinquish her own voice. In "Give-Away," we are in the room when a Japanese American mother shares what it felt like for her family to be stripped of their belongings during the Japanese American evacuation and internment of 1942. Finally, we lend our ears to a young Chinese American woman as she tries to distance herself from anything "Chinese," who later in life, ironically finds herself learning about her heritage in college, where she is able to exchange her shame for pride.
We watch these characters fumble for words as they struggle to exercise their voice. They reveal to us their secrets, and we see them in both their most vulnerable and their most empowering moments. Moments in which they tell their version of the story.
What elevates the performance beyond an Asian American Studies survey course is Narita's acting, which is not only sincere, but charged with emotion. She does not simply tell the stories of these women, she takes us there with them. We not only see, but we feel the sadness of someone being stripped of their belongings in less than a day by their own country. We smell the burning marrow in Hiroshima and we listen, painfully, to the pregnant silence that rests heavily upon the mother in "Dream Mountain," decades after her encounter with the Khmer Rouge.
Images and sound bites of these women are burned into our memories long after Narita leaves the stage.
For more information on Jude Narita, go to her official website here.