Tsunami

By NILO CRUZ and MICHIKO KITAYAMA SKINNER
Directed By NILO CRUZ
South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center

March 11, 2011 was one of the most horrific days in Japan’s history. The triple disaster of the Tohoku earthquake, tsunami, and meltdown at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant all happened on the same day. The disaster killed 15,891 people, left 2,584 people missing, and over 200,000 people lost their homes.

My mother was born and raised in Iwate prefecture, one of the most devastated areas by the disaster. During my childhood, I spent many summers and New Year celebrations in Iwate.

In May, 2012, one year after the disaster, Nilo Cruz and I traveled to Tohoku with the support of the University of Miami Provost Research grant. During the trip, we saw devastating damage particularly in Ozuchi where the town center was completely destroyed by the tsunami. The town lost its mayor along with 1,300 victims. Now with a new mayor, Ozuchi is struggling to rebuild and move forward. We were profoundly moved by the people of Ozuchi, who were working tirelessly to rebuild the town: pure, fragile, old-soul, but also very strong.

Nilo and I interviewed over 20 people in the Ozuchi area.  All interviews were audio-recorded; portions were video-recorded. Those interviews have been transcribed and translated into English. Tsunami is written with voices of actual victims of the Tohoku Great Disaster. Every word of the play is what each person actually said to us during interviews.

Michiko Kitayama Skinner