Think Fast: Chicago Dramatists’ fundraiser and Porchlight Theatre in Japan


  • Chicago Dramatists’ “$30 for 30” campaign, in its first week, has gathered 111 donations and raised a total of $11,300.  Though nowhere near at the moment, the theatre’s goal of 500 donations is well within reach, even more so with my reader’s help –  PLEASE DONATE NOW!

Eugene and Walter toast their trip and feast on Japanese cuisine, their favorite!  "Pacific Overtures" can soon be experienced at the Theatre Building.

  • In preparation of Pacific Overtures, Director L. Walter Stearns and Music Director Eugene Dizon traveled to Tokyo and Shimoda, Japan. In the process they penned a three part essay that chronicled their travels, discoveries, and eye-opening experiences on the way.  You can read the third-installment after the fold. In addition, Porchlight Music Theatre has been maintaining a cool behind-the-Pacific-Overtures production blog.  “Pacific Overtures” has now completed its first-week run.


Porchlight Director/Music Director’s Research-Driven Trip to Japan

In preparation for the musical Pacific Overtures, Director L. Walter Stearns and Music Director Eugene Dizon traveled to Tokyo and Shimoda, Japan. In this final installment of a three part essay, they will share their travel experience and give you a behind the scenes preview of Pacific Overtures.

We took in the best of the modern and ancient Japan as we refined our interpretation of Pacific Overtures. I decided that we must tell the story of Pacific Overtures from the Japanese perspective. Our recent trip helped us to understand the differences in our points of view.

The Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo

Modern Tokyo is ablaze with commercialism. The major neighborhoods of the Ginza and Ueno reflect modern day Manhattan . . . but are impeccably clean and courteous. Probably because of the overcrowding, the Japanese maintain good health by keeping everything spotlessly clean.  Tokyo also boasts the lowest crime rates in the world. Prices are on a par with New York City, but the service industry is second to none. People take great pride in doing a good job, anything less would be disgraceful. In building Tokyo, the Japanese have taken everything wonderful about life in a big American city, and added pride, service, and safety.

President Jimmy Carter and family visiting Shimoda, Japan

Several fascinating historical events touched Shimoda Japan. Many of these stories are depicted in Pacific Overtures.

  • The port was opened to American trade under the conditions of the Convention of   Kanagawa, negotiated by Commodore Matthew Perry and signed on March 31, 1854.
  • A Japanese fisherman named John Manjiro was lost at sea, rescued by the U.S. Navy and educated in America. The Emperor of Japan sent him to Shimoda to negotiate the treaty with America.
  • Yoshida Shōin, one of Japan’s most distinguished intellectuals, wanted to learn the ways of the West. He and a friend went to Shimoda where Perry’s ‘black ships’ were anchored, and tried to gain admittance. They first presented a letter asking to be let aboard one of the ships. In the dead of night Yoshida tried to secretly climb aboard. Perry’s troops noticed them, and they were refused.
  • The first American Consulate in Japan was opened in Shimoda under Consul General Townsend Harris. While in Shimoda, he discovered enormous hostility to foreigners, as well as the love of a young geisha. This was later transformed into the John Wayne Movie, “The Barbarian and the Geisha.”
  • Japan’s relations with Russia were also negotiated in Shimoda, and in 1855 the Treaty of Shimoda was signed at Chōraku-ji.

Eugene and Walter toast their trip and feast on Japanese cuisine, their favorite!

The masterstroke of Pacific Overtures is that it tells the story of a civilization in an entertaining and dynamic way. The changes in Japan are depicted through the eyes and relationships of two central Japanese characters. We were very fortunate to experience historic and modern Japan and hope to bring their perspective to the stage.

Visit our production blog to follow the behind-the-scenes scoop:

Show opens Sunday, March 15

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