In the wake of America’s entry into World War II, more than 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry were forced to leave their homes, possessions, and communities and report to relocation centers and internment camps. This federal action, authorized by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on February 19, 1942 through Executive Order 9066, led to the suspension of many civil rights of Japanese Americans. Every February 19, the internment of Japanese Americans is remembered both for the hardship it caused and the lessons that can be learned with the hope that history will not repeat itself. One lasting legacy of the internment experience was the so-called “loyalty questionnaire,” which was designed to test the loyalty of the incarcerated Japanese Americans. Two questions, #27 (willingness to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces) and #28 (willingness to swear unqualified allegiance to the United States and forswear allegiance to any other nation or government), were both disturbing and confusing to the internees. Using these questions as a focal point to reveal the unfair treatment of the internees, Question 27, Question 28 vividly brings to life not only the experiences of the imprisoned Japanese Americans, but also of their non-Japanese contemporaries and how some of them reacted to this violation of civil rights. Told exclusively through the perspectives of women, Question 27, Question 28 is based on verbatim excerpts from oral histories and interviews.
Question 27, Question 28 was first presented by Center Theatre Group / Mark Taper Forum's Asian Theatre Workshop in association with East West Players and the Japanese American National Museum on February 19, 2004. The director was Chay Yew.
Dian: Dian Kobayashi
Emily: Emily Koruda
Shannon: Shannon Holt
Tamlyn: Tamlyn Tomita
The production then transferred to East West Players on March 29, 2004. The role of Tamlyn was played by Amy Hill, and the role of Shannon was played alternately by Linda Gehringer and Janellen Steininger during this run.
The production with the original cast presented Question 27, Question 28 at the Smithsonian Institute on February 19, 2006
"It is one of life's anomalies that xenophobia is generally exhibited by the people who are least likely to be able to spell it. Creator/director Chay Yew's documentary approach to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II certainly gives a nod to that segment of the population, but it's a far richer piece than that, focusing primarily on the experience of females both inside and outside the camps. The work thus has a distinctive voice that is neither didactic nor polemic. A great deal of power comes from the sheer simplicity of the production. With nothing more than a graphically stunning representation of barbed wire as their, four of the finer actors in town simply stand and read Yew's compilation of testimonials and historical documents." - Back Stage
"[Question 27, Question 28] reanimates history with breathtaking immediacy. Compiled by Chay Yew from oral history collections, interviews and memoirs and other published works, the piece describes what happened to more than 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast. Events bear an eerie resemblance to actions against Jews in Hitler's Germany. They also call to mind the treatment of people of Middle Eastern descent here in the United States after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. This is among Yew's goals , achieved subtly yet vividly." - Los Angeles Times
"Absorbing - a live version of oral history. Yew deftly and adroitly explores their lives, blending bewilderment, anger and acceptance as the women struggle with their uprooted lives, families that are torn apart, suspicion and prejudice - and the aftermath when they are finally released." - Hollywood Reporter
"Repeating The History: Playwright Chay Yew Thought The Story of the Japanese Internment of World War II needed no more telling. Then Came 9/11" (Los Angeles Times)
"Representation and Relevance: Strollers' Question 27, Question 28 Revisits A Painful U.S. Chapter" (Isthmus)
Question 27, Question 28 Center Theater Group Program
"Vancouver Actress Explores Legacy of Family's Internment" (Vancouver Courier)
AVPA Artists: A Lesson in Japanese Internment" (AVPA)