Another Winner at Theatreworks

TheatreWorks present…Snow Falling On Cedars..... a statement of who we once were and still could become

Racism is man’s gravest threat to man
The maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason
Abraham J. Heschel

Snow Falling On Cedars is a magnificent achievement on every level. Robert Kelley,
Director of the production and Artistic Director of TheatreWorks has elevated an excellent, if fragmented script packed with too much information into an unforgettable work of art. This is an ensemble piece and no one actor outshines the rest, yet thanks to Kelley’s masterful orchestration of the movement, the lighting and the cameo scenes, each has his special moment. The story is based on David Guterson’s disturbing, and beautifully rendered novel of the prejudice, cruelty and persecution of the Japanese after World War II. Anyone who was alive during that time will recall the propaganda that encouraged us as Americans to despise anything Japanese, German or Italian.
I can still recall the stories of those camps where we imprisoned American citizens of Japanese descent who had done no wrong. They were enemies even though they had done no crime.

Snow Falling On Cedars takes place on an island in Puget Sound and is the story of a murder trial of a Japanese American Veteran, Kabuo Miyamoto (Tim Chiou) who fought for the United States in World War II and is accused of murdering Will Springhorn Jr. (Carl Heine, Jr.) the son of the man who took Miyamoto’s father’s land from him. Miyamoto’s lawyer, Nels Gudmundsson (beautifully portrayed by Edward Sarafian) is the character whose dialogue keeps us focused on what this story is really about. Kabuo Miyamoto is on trial for what he is, not what he has done and Gudmundsson’s eloquence in reminding the jurors (and the audience) that to try a man because of his parentage is not only un-American, it is inhumane.

“In Snow Falling on Cedars” we see the big picture of American life through the specific experiences of a few families on a remote island at the extreme northwestern edge of the country,” said Robert Kelley. “ ‘The legacy of prejudice, the frailty passed on from generation to generation’ as David Guterson describes it, plays out in a microcosm of a community divided against itself in the months after Pearl Harbor and later haunted by that experience in the halcyon days of the mid-fifties. Humanity’s penchant for discrimination overwhelmed this community as it did our own here in the Bay Area, and many Americans, both Asian and Caucasian, paid its price. Snow Falling on Cedars is about a fracture of the human spirit; about how evil for a time overwhelmed the good; about the choice to forgive and the chance to revive”…..and he continues, “(Ishmael’s) story… about a love that should have been and a hate that should have not.”

This is a must see for every thinking human being in today’s world. The hatred spewed out against the Muslim community, the checkpoints, arrests and searches of people whose only sin are the parents who bore them and only a few examples of how irrational prejudice and fear has seeped into this society. Snow Falling on Cedars is as immediate as the headlines in the news, artistically developed in the skilled hands of a talented and creative director, with lighting that highlights the sense of place by Steven B. Mannshardt, and settings that enhance the action, designed by Andrea Bechert. Snow Falling On Cedars is a production to be seen not once but again and again so we never forget the time when the color a person’s skin and the slant of his eyes was a crime.

Snow Falling on Cedars continues until April 24, 2011 as The Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro Street in Mountain View. Tickets are $24-
$67. Information: 650 463 1960 or