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Division and Conflict along Racial Lines

Children’s play chronicles unjust chapter in history

The forced imprisonment and relocation of over 110,000 Japanese-American citizens during World War II is chronicled in ‘The Journal of Ben Uchida: Citizen 13559,’ a new Oregon Children’s Theatre production.

An unjust chapter in American history when over 110,000 Japanese-American citizens were imprisoned and relocated during World War II is the focus in a local theater production geared to families and younger audiences.

With anger, despair, sadness and hope, The Oregon Children’s Theatre presents “The Journal of Ben Uchida: Citizen 13559,” now playing at the Winningstad Theatre, downtown, with shows continuing through March 22.

Adapted for the stage by influential Japanese-American playwright Naomi Iizuka and originally commissioned by the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the show chronicles the experiences of 12-year-old Ben Uchida and his Japanese-American family.

According to producers of the play, the story may have more significance to current events than when the show premiered in 2006 because of new divisions and conflicts along racial lines—including the racialized demonization of both citizens and immigrants, and even government proposals to repurpose the sites of Japanese internment camps to house asylum-seeking children and families.

“Izuka’s beautiful, heartbreaking play reminds us that when the world feels dark, we can find a deep connection with those close to us, and it charges us all to look out for our neighbors,”

said Marcella Crowson, interim artistic director for the Oregon Children’s Theater.

“The Journal of Ben Uchida” uses historically accurate language (from the 1940s/WWII), including racial slurs, and bias-motivated violence. Recommended for ages 10 and up. Tickets are on sale now, starting at $15 with group rates available. To purchase or learn more, call the box office at 503-228-9571 or visit


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