cast backstage before/after the show:
Teahouse of the August Moon opened at the Martin Beck Theatre in New
York City on October 15, 1953.
The story deals with
the United States' occupation of the island of Okinawa just after World War II, and
the American efforts
to bring democracy to it and to teach its people American ideals.
Captain Fisby (Cliff Gurdin) is sent to the small village of Tobiki, along with a native
translator named Sakini (Alan Lupi). At first, he was put off by the quaint and primitive
customs of the Okinawans ― particularly when he is
given a Geisha girl,Lotus Blossom (Sue Schlesinger), as a gift
they grow on him, and soon he's acting like a native. This distresses his
supervisor, the blustery Col. Purdy (Carl Zeitz), who sends an Army psychologist
down to check on Fisby's mental health.
| There's gentle satire in this
play, mostly at the expense of ethno-centric Americans, who always assume their
way is the best way. When none of the soldiers will buy the painstakingly
crafted ceramics or other well-made trinkets of the Tobikians, Fisby has
them start making the one thing he knows the American G.I.s will buy
Few American plays treat foreign cultures with as much respect as this one,
which is especially noteworthy considering it was written in 1953, only eight
years after the end of WWII, when
reverence for the Japanese and their culture was not exactly at its
pinnacle. Yet, the play is not preachy or moralizing. The Okinawans are
not put on a pedestal. They are shown to be at times silly, jealous and
petty ― in other words, regular people. Itís
a good-natured, laugh-out-loud funny play that gently reminds us how much beauty
there is in the world ― beauty that we, to
paraphrase Fisby, ought to be wise enough to leave alone.
beautifully and emotionally, Sue (now known as Suzanne)
disclaims credit for the recording as follows:
"To think that my
Dad ( I miss him so) brought my huge clunky tape
recorder to the school and placed it by the
stage to get all the words of the show.
Interesting, the tape recorder we had was the
size of a piece of carry-on luggage. It made a
bang when turned on and off ... and he surprised
me by bringing it to the auditorium to tape the
show. What a gift my father gave to all of
us! My Dad was a very special man
his whole life. He was so gentle and
loving and caring. I thought all parents were
like mine. When he taped the show, who could
know that such wonderful gifts could come from
it over 40 years later. What a blessing he
did. Just think
─ Joel, Cliff, Alan and the rest
of us preserved on tape ... in our youth. I take
no credit. It was truly my Dad."
Copyright © 2000-2006 by Howard B. Levy
All rights reserved.