A DRAMA ABOUT JAPAN IN WORLD WAR II
© 2000 by Sherwood Ross
Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Internet References: "Sherwood Ross Associates"
This play may not be produced without the express permission of the playwright.
NOTE TO DIRECTORS
"Yamamoto's Decision" is a play with 12 characters that can be performed by eight actors. Roles that can be combined are those of Reiko and the Colonel's wife; General Tojo, the Naval Minister, and the Assassin; and Major Matsui and the Waiter.
This play has been read at Biff Malibu's, Deadwood, S.D.; Playwright's Workshop, Montreal, Canada; and the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. It won honors in national competitions sponsored by Riverside Stage, Wilton, Conn., and Theatre IV, Richmond, Va. The author is an American reporter who contributes to newspapers and national magazines. His articles on World War II have appeared in The Humanist Magazine and World War II Magazine, among others.
Set in Japan in the Thirties, "Yamamoto's Decision" is based on the life of Harvard-educated Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, mastermind of the Pearl Harbor attack. Several of Yamamoto's poems and quotations from his letters have been blended into the dialogue. For example, the poem about the moon is Yamamoto's writing. The play explores the conflict between conscience and patriotism as well as personal sacrifice during wartime.
Information that may be useful to the audience: Japan conquered Manchuria in 1931; attacked Shanghai, China, in 1932; invaded China in force, 1937; and attacked Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Naval Base on Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, bringing America into World War II.
"Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but our country right or wrong." --- Admiral Stephen Decatur, U.S. Navy, Norfolk, Va., 1816
(In order of appearance)
Admiral Akio Matsushita, Retired, Yamamoto's friend
Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto
Reiko, Yamamoto's wife
Yoko, Yamamoto's lover, geisha house owner
Tokuko, apprentice geisha
Noburo Matsui, Army Major
Major Matsui's wife
Fumio, Yamamoto's aide
General Hideki Tojo, Army Commander
ACT ONE, SCENE ONE
(Curtain rises on a cold, foggy night in a Japanese port city in 1934. Sound of water lapping against a pier. Foghorn. Akio at stage left looking through binoculars at the ocean. He wears western suit, overcoat, white silk scarf. The Waiter enters from stage
right and peers out at the ocean. The Waiter is poorly dressed, wash pants and long-sleeved shirt and sandals. He shivers with cold. He sees Akio and approaches hesitantly.)
Can you see the fleet?
Not in this fog.