Justice at War (play)

Play based on the Mitsuye Endo case developed by Theatre Espresso for performance in schools. A short play that takes place in the courtroom, Justice at War: The Story of the Japanese Internment Camps is a fictionalized version of Endo Supreme Court case, including as characters former head of the Western Defense Command General John DeWitt, one of the main architects of the forced exclusion of Japanese Americans; Endo's lawyer James Purcell; Solicitor General Charles Fahy, who prosecuted the case for the government; Supreme Court Justice Harlan Stone; and Mitsuye Endo. (In the actual Endo case, neither DeWitt, who had by then been replaced as head of the Western Defense Command, nor Endo herself, appeared before the court.) The student audience plays the role of the judges and is asked to decide the questions posed by the case.

The Boston-based Theatre Espresso formed in 1992 and created Justice at War in 1993, one of several shows for middle and high school audiences it performs based on real historical stories. Theatre Espresso artistic director Wendy Lement and Bethany Dunakin wrote that they conceived the play "to address a topic that we felt was not adequately covered in the teaching of American history."[1] The company continues to offer the one-hour performance to schools and other venues.

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

For More Information

Lement, Wendy, and Bethany Dunakin. And Justice for Some: Exploring American Justice through Drama and Theatre. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, 2005. 112–42. [Includes the play itself along with study guide provided to teachers in preparation for the play.]

Theatre Expresso website: http://www.theatreespresso.org/pages/our-shows.php#justice-at-war.


  1. Wendy Lement, and Bethany Dunakin. And Justice for Some: Exploring American Justice through Drama and Theatre (Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, 2005), 112.