Campus News

View Year

Within the Silence' Production Details Japanese Internment Experience

(Posted September 3, 2013)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order to begin an internment program placing Japanese-Americans in internment camps, resulting in the loss of businesses, family breakups and suspension of their civil rights. Juniata College will host a theatrical production based on this shameful chapter in American history called, "Within the Silence," at 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 19, in the ballroom of Ellis Hall on the Juniata campus.

The production is free and open to the public. "Within the Silence" is presented as a companion piece to an art exhibit at the Juniata College Museum of Art, "Infinite Mirror: Images of American Identity," which presents art by American artists raised in many different cultures as a way to visually decode how the United States sees itself as a nation. The Juniata Museum of Art is sponsoring the production, together with Juniata College's Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The museum exhibit opens with a reception at the museum at 5 p.m., Sept. 19.

"The play is about the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during the Second World War, a subject also explored by 'Infinite Mirror' artist Scott Tsuchitani, whose parents and grandparents lived through that experience."
Judy Maloney, assistant professor of art.

"The play is about the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during the Second World War, a subject also explored by 'Infinite Mirror' artist Scott Tsuchitani, whose parents and grandparents lived through that experience," explains Judy Maloney, instructor in art and director of the Juniata College Museum of Art. "In digitally altering actual images from the internment camps, Tsuchitani says he wants to evoke past and present assaults on the civil liberties that have been 'considered birthright in this country.'"


In 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order No. 9066, which authorized civil authorities to confiscate businesses, property, and in most cases personal possessions from Japanese-Americans and incarcerate entire families in a series of internment camps located mostly in the western United States.

"Within the Silence" dramatizes this deplorable decision through the character of Emiko Yamada, a teenage girl growing up in the "Japantown" neighborhood in Seattle, Wash. The production follows the Yamadas as they are rounded up by the U.S. Army and sent to a temporary holding facility, Camp Harmony, located near Seattle on the fairgrounds of the Washington State Fair.

The FBI sends Emiko's father to a special camp in Montana as the rest of the family is transferred to Camp Minidoka, in Idaho. "Within the Silence" presents its story through the eyes of Emiko as one of her brothers joins the U.S Army, while her other brother is radicalized and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp. Eventually, Emiko's father returns, but he is a changed man, withdrawn and wary.

The production follows Emiko and her family through the rest of the war and the Yamadas' release. The family makes a start at rebuilding their lives, starting by sending Emiko to college to become a teacher.

"Within the Silence" is created and presented by Living Voices, a Seattle-based theatrical program that uses solo performances and combines them with archival film clips to turn history into a living journey.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.