Unsung Hero of the Holocaust
This month, I get to take part in a retelling of largely unknown piece of history. During World War II, Chiune Sugihara, the Vice-Consul for Japan in Lithuania, helped more than six thousand Jews (mostly refugees from German-occupied Poland as well as Lithuania) leave the country by issuing transit visas so that they could travel to Japan. This brave action put at risk his entire career and the lives of his family members. The so-called "Japanese Schindler" was later named Righteous Among the Nations by Israel in 1985, the only Japanese national to be so honored.
Despite all the ideal trappings for a Hollywood movie, Sugihara's story is not very well-known. It was the subject of the 1997 short film Visas and Virtue, which won the 1998 Academy Award for Best Short Film, Live Action, and a handful of TV specials and documentaries, but mention his name to most people and you will get a blank response.
Trailer for Visas and Virtue (1997)
On Thursday, August 27, I will be playing Sugihara in a staged reading of Chiune Sugihara: Unsung Hero of the Holocaust a play by Philip Pinkus. The reading is produced by Genesis Theatricals and is directed by Elayne LeTraunik. The Japanese American Service Committee (JASC) has very kindly offered to provide space for the event.
I'm definitely looking forward to this. Besides the inherent heroism and the opportunity to shed light on a forgotten historical episode, I believe it is important to show that not all stories involving Japanese persons during WWII were ones in which they were the aggressors (in the case of the Pacific War) or victims (the Japanese American internment).
Genesis Theatrical Productions presents a Dramatic Staged Reading of
Chiune Sugihara: Unsung Hero of the Holocaust by Philip Pinkus
Presented by Genesis Theatricals
The show features Dwight Sora as Chiune Sugihara. Directed by Elayne LeTraunik
Thursday, August 27, 2015, 7:30 pm
Japanese American Service Committee
4427 N. Clark, Chicago
The reading is free. For information or questions, call 773-800-1703