Velina Hasu Houston is American award-winning playwriter, editor, poet, essayist and an author. Houston has produced, published and presented many works that are focused on shifting identity boundaries regarding culture, ethnicity and gender. Her works also do embrace a transnational way of viewing identity basing on her American and Japanese background. The themes of her work have gone far beyond by attempting to explore the stories that are linked to women in the community. Tea is an example of her play that is well known in which the lives of the Japan “war brides” are portrayed. These brides move with their husbands to the US where they work as servicemen. Houston turned out to be the only playwriter who produced works which explored the transnational US- Japan relation by using stories (Velina). The stories do include the global view of belonging, identity and bilateral. Houston knew the territory of her play setting intimately. Her mother was Japanese who had married an American soldier of World War III. The father was also a half black and an American native. The basis of the play is built on the extensive interviews that the author had with 50 Japan women who lived in Kansa at that time.
The characters in the play Tea are women who are natives of Japan and are married to soldiers of America. The soldiers were stationed in Japanese after the Second World War. They took their places in Japan around 1946-1960 with their marriages challenging the enemy of the US Army policies. The systems were characterized by a nature of interracial-intercultural. Besides, the marriages seemed to create a problem of the social systems both in America and Japan. The set systems needed women to survive the ridicules and the oppressions that the marriages are usually faced. The women were labeled “war brides” as it was the war that had brought them in meeting with their husbands. The interesting fact of these brides is their political and their personal life. It is a fabricated history of Japanese native women who got married to the Americans at the end of the Second World War and forgetting the Amerasians which is the original birth of the marriages (Robert 32).
The play is an impressionistic and impassioned view of the women and portrays an implication in the current world of “multiculturalism”. The play is 30 years old set in Kansa, and it is equally relevant in today’s world. It is clearly portrayed that the element of the World War II such as internment camps that belonged to the Japanese and set by the government deeply reaches the souls of the country’s founded on immigrants. The play Tea, at its heart, concerns the asserting a meaningful sense of belonging and places from an emotional and geographic setting which seems to be unwelcoming and alienating. This is an important insight that is learnt from the play. The play emblematic figure is centered on the character Himiko Hamilton who is pushed to the edge of madness after a fatal shot of her abusive husband. Peace and reconciliation role is evident from Himiko who sets her spirit in achieving them and share with the other four Japanese women. Setsuko Banks plays the role of an optimistic and an accommodative bride; Atsuko Yamamoto is judgmental; Teruko is a rational bride whereas Chizuye is a cynical and assimilated. Himiko makes the cornerstone of the play’s emotional aspect. She is in pain which is a product of impoverished upbringing and an outraged past.
Voice and Visibility
Stereotypes unfairly confine the Asian Americans viewed as minorities and unworthy, and this perspective does not only delude the other minorities but also renders them invisible. Stories are shared which goes far beyond discrimination and racism having residual outcomes of broken marriages and personal challenges. Stories of invisibility of the marginalized are not unique. This painful reality historically has caused unappreciative and ignorance which persist to the current day. It becomes very discouraging to know that despite all the energy that has been directed towards accomplishing equality these groups are still unheard, unknown and unseen (Velina). All the works towards attempts of being valued and recognized seem not to have any impact. Indeed, is becomes very dishearting on realizing that Asian Americans are still invisible and forgotten. It is a high time that the uniqueness of these individuals has to be recognized and be known that they mostly contribute to the Asian American identity. They deserve better treatment just as everyone would wish to be treated.
Interviewer: What importance can be attached to tea drinking in the play?
Respondent: Tea is a form of strength where the women in the play meet and take tea while talking and confronting the challenges that they are having in life.
Interviewer: In what ways does the tea symbolize the dynamic of the society?
Respondent: Tea symbolizes an opportunity that is provided by looking at the changing American face. Groups of immigration are seen to have settled across the nation including the coastal regions, big cities to Kansas a point where Tea does take place. The numbers of the immigrants in some of the areas is significant to an e of transforming the society. This provides an opportunity of looking at the changing face of America.