East West Players (EWP), the nation's largest producing organization of Asian American artistic work and the longest-running professional theatre of color in the country, continues its 46h Anniversary season. Themed Languages of Love, the third production of the season carries on with the Mainland Premiere of THREE YEAR SWIM CLUB by Lee Tonouchi. This production is directed and choreographed by Keo Woolford and produced in association with Honolulu Theatre for Youth. The cast of the production features Jared Asato, Kelsey Chock, Aaron Ikeda, John Galmiche, Kaliko Kauahi, Blake Kushi, Mapuana Makia, and Chris Takemoto-Gentile.
This play is inspired by the true life story of Soichi Sakamoto, who trained the youth of Maui to swim in the plantation irrigation ditches on their path to becoming Olympic champions. Set on the island of Maui in the 1930's, this heartwarming play becomes transcendent as the art of hula becomes the metaphor for competitive swimming.
"I am amazed at the wonderful audience response to the play. Described as an Olympic story, a Hawaiian story, and a feel good story for the entire family, the audience found more resonance" said producing artistic director Tim Dang. "It's about fulfilling your dreams, finding your voice, feeling pure joy (in swimming), but also how to face adversity, finding family outside of your family, and addressing issues of race and class."
Honolulu Theatre for Youth (HTY) produces professional theatre and drama education programs that make a difference in the lives of young people, families and educators in the state of Hawai'i. HTY is committed to producing shows that are about and for the people of Hawaii, and this season they are doing 100% original work.
The HTY version of THREE YEAR SWIM CLUB was commissioned in 2011 and had an original running time of one hour. Dang has Hawaiian roots and was interested in the script with a few changes, which morphed into a full production. Johnson has great respect and admiration for the work that East West Players produces and was able to host a workshop reading for Dang and EWP Literary Manager Jeff Liu in Honolulu last November. Since hearing this story, Johnson says, "It has changed me because of the deep roots of the community. By passing along this story, it has connected a new generation to its past. The story and influence of Coach Soichi Sakamoto has been profound in this community and HTY is thrilled to see the piece have a life in Los Angeles," says HTY Artistic Director Eric Johnson.
The design team consists of set and projection designer Adam Flemming, lighting designer Jeremy Pivnick, costume designer Ken Takemoto, sound designer Dennis Yen and property master Ken Takemoto. The stage manager is Maya Rogers.
Generous support for this production of THREE YEAR SWIM CLUB is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by Southern California Edison, California Community Foundation, Shubert Foundation, LA County Board of Supervisors through the LA County Arts Commission, the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, the James Irvine Foundation, and Bank of America.
All performances will be staged at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center for the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. THREE YEAR SWIM CLUB currently runs through Sunday March 11, 2012. Performances are Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm.
General Admission tickets range from $26-36. For ticket purchases or more information, please call East West Players at (213) 625-7000 or visit www.eastwestplayers.org. Senior, student, and group discounts are available. Dates, prices, and details are subject to change.