Nisei Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves

"Sisters Matsumoto," by Berkeley playwright Philip Kan Gotanda, shows through April 29 at the Lesher Center for the Arts.


Philip Kan Gotanda.

Center REPertory Company couldn’t have known just how topical Sisters Matsumoto would be when the resident theater company at Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts decided to put the play in its 2016-17 season.

Set in 1945, acclaimed Berkeley playwright Philip Kan Gotanda’s 1999 drama focuses on the return of three sisters to their family farm after being imprisoned in an internment camp in World War II. Their formerly prosperous father died in the camp, the farm is in ruins, and the three very different sisters have to figure out where to go from here.

Sisters Matsumoto first played the Bay Area at San Jose Rep in 1999, directed by former Berkeley Rep artistic director Sharon Ott, in a co-production with Ott’s new home Seattle Rep (which premiered it earlier that year) and Asian American Theatre Company. Now what had been an unflinching look at a shameful chapter in our nation’s history is sadly given renewed currency due to the recent resurgence of xenophobia and anti-immigrant hysteria at the highest levels of American government.

The Center REP production is helmed by powerhouse director Mina Morita, artistic director of San Francisco’s Crowded Fire Theater, and stars Keiko Shimosato Carreiro, Carina Lastimosa, and Melissa Locsin as the titular sisters.

Sisters Matsumoto plays through April 29, 7:30 p.m. Wed. (and Tue. April 4), 8 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 2:30 p.m. Sat.-Sun., Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, $33-$55, 925-943-7469,


This report appears in the April edition of our sister publication, The East Bay Monthly.


Published online on March 30, 2017 at 8:00 a.m.

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