Pan Asian Repertory Presents Fishing for Wives

Tisa Chang and Edward Sakamoto

Article By Pui See Tsang
Photo credit Corky Lee & John Quincy Lee

Pan Asian Repertory Theatre continues its 37th Milestone Season with the New York premiere of Fishing for Wives, a comic battle of the sexes written by Edward Sakamoto and directed by Ron Nakahara. The production will begin previews on April 5, 2014 and run until April 27, 2014 at the Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row (410 W 42nd Street between 9th and Dyer).

It’s 1913, Hawaii and two immigrant fishermen, Nishi and Aoki, are lonely and bored with only catching fish. Nishi sends for a picture bride from Japan, but sneaks a photo of his handsome friend in his place. The brides arrive and fall in love — with the wrong man — setting off a comedy of errors with mistaken identity, tragic drowning, seeming betrayal and a final surprise turn of events, colorfully visualized with mime and movement. Like Horton Foote, whose family dramas define Texas country life, septuagenarian Sakamoto, specializes in the rich fabric of Hawaiian myth and language in exploration of migration and family dynamics.

The show is mainly played by Viet Vo as Nishi, Kiyo Takami as Yamamoto, and Bobby Foley as Aoki. Nishi is the less handsome fisherman and Aoki is the more handsome fisherman. Yamamoto is the wife of Nishi but was attracted by Aoki. Aoki’s father wants him to be married too so he sent Aoki three girls to choose from; who were neurotic Umeko (Rebecca Lee Lerman), sexually aggressive Ihara (Akiko Hiroshima), and self-assured Murashima (Allison Hiroto). However, Aoki still doesn’t want to marry. Finally, because of a freak boating accident, Yamamoto changes the way she feels with Nishi and gives you an unexpected ending.

Playwright Edward Sakamoto returns to Pan Asian Repertory Theatre with his newest play, Fishing for Wives, which draws on his family history: both his grandmothers were picture brides who emigrated from Japan to Hawaii near the turn of the century. His plays have been staged in various venues, including East West Players in Los Angeles, Kumu Kahua Theatre in Hawaii and in cities like Sacramento, San Francisco, Stockton, etc. In 1998 Sakamoto received the Hawai’i Award for Literature, the highest literary honor presented by the Hawaii State Council. Then Gov. Cayetano presented the award to Sakamoto in a special ceremony at the Hawai’l State Capitol. He received Po’okela theater awards for Aloha Las Vegas and Our Hearts Were Touched With Fire. During his career he was awarded the Rockefeller Foundation Playwright in Residence grant.

Director Ron Nakahara has been an actor/director in New York City since 1979 and was designated a Senior Artist with that city’s Pan Asian Repertory Theatre in 1987. He was then named Artistic Associate for the company and continues in that position today. Ron has directed one-woman shows at Don’t Tell Mama and The Duplex, and has worked extensively with and directed the Asian-American performance group SLANT at La MaMa ETC, and NYSF Public Theatre. His other directing credits in New York include NAATCO, and Ensemble Studio Theatre. His regional credits include The Studio Theatre (Washington, DC), Hartford Stage Co., Fulton Opera House (Lancaster, PA) where his production of Miss Ever’s Boys won him a best director award, Honolulu Theatre for Youth, New York State Theatre Institute, Hangar Theatre (Ithaca,) Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Virginia Stage Company (Norfolk,) and Actor’s Theatre of Louisville. In addition, Ron has also directed for New York University and Virginia Commonwealth University. Because of all those valuable experiences, Ron helped to direct Fishing for Wives, which became a very awesome and fabulous show.

The play is extremely funny and refreshing. All the actors have done an amazing job engaging the audience. We highly recommend to see it and to transport yourself to the beautiful Hawaii and possibly begin your own romance.

Kiyo Takami, Allison Hiroto, Bobby Foley, Jannette Lau, Ron Nakahara, Edward Sakamoto, Viet Vo, Rebecca Lee Lerman, Akiko Hirosh

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