Block 8 (play)

Two character plays set in Topaz by Matthew Ivan Bennett. A production of the Plan-B Theatre Company of Salt Lake City, Utah, Block 8 premiered on February 20, 2009, at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center's Studio Theatre. The play centers on Ken, a twenty-three year old Nisei from San Francisco who had been a student at the University of California at Berkeley prior to being forcibly removed with his family and incarcerated at Topaz, and Ada, a Mormon woman from Salt Lake City with a son fighting the Pacific who becomes the librarian at Topaz. Initially wary of each other, the two form a surrogate mother/son relationship as Ken struggles with the decision on whether or not to enlist.

Founded in 1991, the Plan-B Theatre Company specializes in original plays by Utah playwrights on "unique and socially conscious themes." Playwright Bennett had been the company's resident playwright since 2007 and director Jerry Rapier—who is of half-Japanese descent—had been producing director of the company since 2000. Bryan Kido, a young Utah actor with family connections to Topaz, played Ken and Anita Booher played Ada. When a collapsed lung left Kido unable to play the final week of performances, director Rapier filled in for him.[1]

Reviewing Block 8 for the Salt Lake Tribune, Barbara M. Bannon called it "beautifully written, poetic at times," but faulted it for having "little dramatic action." Volition Mag called it "a stirring and well written play."[2]

After its initial run in 2009, the original cast did a reading of the play for the 2012 Day of Remembrance.

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

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For More Information

Plan-B Theater website. http://planbtheatre.org. Block 8 on Plan-B blog. http://planbtheatre.org/wp/?cat=22.

Block 8 photos and credits. http://www.flickr.com/photos/planbtheatreco/sets/72157620420108125/.

Hansen, Erica. "'Block 8' Provides a Glimpse of Japanese Relocation Camp in Utah." Deseret News, February 15, 2009.

Footnotes

  1. Ben Fulton, "'Block 8' Actor Hospitalized," Salt Lake Tribune, March 2, 2009, accessed on December 3, 2013 at http://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=11820979&itype=NGPSID&keyword=&qtype=.
  2. Barbara M. Bannon, "Review: 'Block 8' Strains to Portray Topaz from Inside and Out," Salt Lake Tribune, February 23, 2009, accessed on December 3, 2013 at http://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=11768686&itype=NGPSID; "Plan-B Theatre Company Brings History to Life in Matthew Bennett's 'Block 8'," Volition Mag, accessed on December 3, 2013 at http://volitionmag.wordpress.com/2009/02/24/plan-b-theatre-company-brings-history-to-life-in-matthew-bennetts-block-8/#more-736.