David Hirata Changes Controversial Show Title To A BOX WITHOUT A BOTTOM Following Community Reactions
Japanese American magician David Hirata has changed the name of his solo show at The Marsh Berkeley to A Box Without A Bottom - Soko-Nashi Bako. Despite having several conversations with family members, some of whom had lived through internment during WWII, as well as Japanese-American audience members at the show's initial run at the San Diego International Fringe Festival in 2018, Hirata's subsequent discussionswith the Japanese-American community in the Bay Area led him to realize that the original title, The J*p Box, was unacceptable.
"I underestimated the raw pain of the 'J' word itself," said Hirata, ultimately leading to the show's title change to A Box Without A Bottom - Soko-Nashi Bako. Hirata adds, "I'm grateful to those who reached out to me to discuss this issue and have been happy to listen and learn. As with all artistic decisions, the conversation about this change has been interesting (and remarkably civil), and I hope that this living dialogue can continue."
A Box Without A Bottom - Soko-Nashi Bako will be presented now through December 1, 2019 with performances at 5:00pm Saturdays and 2:00pm Sundays at The Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston Way, Berkeley. For tickets ($20-$35 sliding scale; $55 and $100 reserved) or moreinformation, the public may visit www.themarsh.org or call The Marsh Box office at 415-282-3055 (open Monday
through Friday, 1:00pm-4:00pm).
Stephanie Weisman, founder and artistic director of The Marsh, has added, "We believe in presenting art that enlightens, entertains, gives voices to our communities, and presents a wide range of views. We also believe in listening to our community and learning. David Hirata's piece is an eloquent look at the horrors of the Japanese-American interments doing WWII, as well as the heinous appropriation by Westerners of one of the Japanese works of illusion seen in America. We are profoundly apologetic for not immediately understanding how deeply affected many Japanese-Americans were by the use of what was a vicious slur in the original title of David's work. Once we were made aware of the issue, we worked with David to rectify the situation immediately. We have tremendous gratitude to all the community members who took the time to bring this to our attention how hurtful it was to see this epithet, and thank everyone for helping to enlighten us."
David Hirata explores the illusions of race and identity through the magic of two cultures, bringing the story of Asian America to life in his newest solo show, which made its premiere at the San Diego International Fringe Festival in June 2018. Following its debut at The Marsh, A Box Without A Bottom - Soko-Nashi Bako was welcomed by critics, who called it "humorous, moving, educational, and entertaining," (ForAllEvents), adding that "what once stood for pain and hope now creates something beautiful - another kind of magic trick" (San Francisco Chronicle).
For over 30 years, David Hirata has amazed audiences throughout the Bay Area with theatrical magic creations at the Exploratorium, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and Oakland Museum, among many others. Hirata's pervious shows include American Wizards at the California Magic Dinner Theater and Kanji by Starlight at The Marsh. Hirata's involvement with The Marsh goes back to 1993, when he first performed at the Monday Night Marsh. He started volunteering, and eventually served as operations manager and Monday Night Marsh program director from about 1994-1998. In 2006, Hirata came back to the Marsh to do a few holiday family shows (Magic Holiday). Hirata returned to solo performance in 2017, beginning work on what would become The Jap Box, which he workshopped at the Marsh's Monday Night and Tell It on Tuesday series. Shortly after scheduling the run for The Jap Box the Artist Relations position opened up and he's once again working at The Marsh.