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Naomi Iizuka:
Hong, Terry. The Hidden Landscapes of Naomi Iizukas Luminous 36 Views. AsianWeek.com Feb 14-20, 2003 Yoon, Cindy. Interview with Naomi Iizuka playwright of 36 Views. AsiaSource.org. March 29, 2002

NAME: Naomi Iizuka OCCUPATION: Playwright Born: TOKYO, JAPAN 1965 RAISED IN: Japan, Indonesia, Holland, and the United States (Washington, D.C.) In (Anon)ymous, Anon is always redefining himself, searching for an identity as he struggles to find his home. Naomi Iizukas personal heritage aids her in understanding the challenges and desires to define oneself in a community. In an interview with AsiaSource.com she said, I'm mixed racePeople don't know where I come from. My father is Japanese. My mother is LatinaI think a lot of people look at me and don't know what they're seeing. There are issues that people who are of mixed heritage deal with that are complicated in terms of finding their home in a specific ethnic group. Iizuka also struggled to find her home as a playwright. She did not dream of being a playwright. Her family never attended the theatre and she did not write a single play until several years after college. (Asianweek.com) Yet, her interest in storytelling took her to Yale University where she earned her degree in Classics and Literature. Like many recent graduates she tried her hand at various jobs, beginning and quitting law school and working on Wall Street. She eventually discovered playwriting and entered the MFA playwriting program at UC San Diego. Her natural talent and hard work was noticed quickly and her work was produced locally and then nationally. She is the youngest playwright to have three shows produced at Humana [Festival of New American Plays at the Actors Theatre of Louisville] (Polaroid Stories in 1997, Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls in 1999 and War of the Worlds in 2000) (Asiaweek.com). She has received several grants and awards and is currently a Professor of Dramatic Arts and Director of the Playwriting Program, UC Santa Barbara while continuing to work on her writing. Her play newest play, Ghostwritten, will have its world premiere at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago for 2008-2009 season. Discussion Questions: How do you think Iizukas background in Classics influences her playwriting? How do you think Iizukas family background influences her use of adaptation? What do you learn about her through her play? How does Anon(ymous) depict race relations in America and abroad? How does Iizuka depict culture without creating a stereotype? 2.

Odyssey by Homer:
Homer., and Richmond Alexander Lattimore . The Odyssey of Homer. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991.

David Donahue and Nancy Flowers, The Uprooted: Refugees and the United States (Alameda, CA: Hunter House Publishers, 1995) 24. Further Reading: Homer., and Richmond Alexander Lattimore . The Iliad of Homer. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961. Iizuka, Naomi. 36 Views : A Play. Woodstock, N.Y.: Overlook Press, 2003. Nelson, Brian. Asian American Drama : 9 Plays from the Multiethnic Landscape. New York: Applause, 1997. 9.

Blurbs About The Odyssey The Odyssey is a Greek epic poem by Homer, which tells the many challenges and adventures of Odysseus on his voyage home from the Trojan War. Odysseus has been gone from his family in Ithaca for approximately twenty years. The war lasted ten years and Odysseus has spent an additional ten years battling gods and monsters to find his way home. But the home Odysseus returns to is not the same as when he left. In his absence life has continued and his family no longer recognizes him. Odysseus must prove his identity and reclaim his existence. Odysseus faces many challenges on his journey. While sailing to Ithaca, Odysseus and his men stop in the land of the Cyclopes. When they meet a Cyclops by the name of Polyphemus, they do not find him to be too hospitable. The Greeks find themselves sealed within Polyphemuss cave and he eats many of them as snacks. Odysseus hatches an escape plan and drugs the enormous Cyclops. When Polyphemus asks his name, Odysseus replies Nobody. When the Cyclops passes out, Odysseus gouges out the creatures one eye. Other Cyclopes arrive at hearing the wails of Polyphemus, but he responds to their questions that Nobody has hurt him. The next day Odysseus and his men are able to escape when the blind Polyphemus lets his goats out to pasture and the men hold on to the goats undersides. Odysseus has escaped the danger of the Cyclopes, but made a terrible enemy. Polyphemus is the son of Poseidon, the god of the sea, and he is none to happy. Being a sailor while having the sea god seeking revenge, is not easy sailing for Odysseus. Odysseus makes his way past the Sirens, whose pleasing sounds lead sailors to lose their senses and crash to their death. Odysseus survives this encounter by having his men fill their ears with wax so they cannot hear, and he is tied to the mast so while he can hear the Sirens singing, he cannot take his ship off course. 3.

Episodic Structure
As you watch, you may notice that the play does not seem to progress in a way that you are used to. Anon(ymous) has an episodic structure. Plays with episodic structures have certain characteristics, similar to episodes on television. Events in the play occur within self-contained scenes, usually following one character through a journey. The episodes accumulate to form a story. Episodic structure lends itself to encounters with many different characters and locations, as you will see in this production of Anon(ymous). What other plays or movies can you think of that have an episodic structure? Here are some examples you might be familiar with: Love Actually, Memento, Pulp Fiction, Crash, and Hamlet

Linear or Climactic Structure

The type of movie or play that you are probably most accustomed to is linear or climactic structure. You follow just a few characters through a short period of time. At the beginning of the play you might hear some exposition, or information that you need to know in order to understand the rest of the story. A conflict is introduced, and then a series of events occurs, or rising action, in which the conflict intensifies. The stakes rise. Suspense! And then, just when you cant take any more, the conflict is somehow resolved in a climactic moment. After that, the play winds down with the falling action. The main character has taken a journey over the course of the play, and is somehow transformed by the end. Some examples of climactic structure are Oedipus and Titanic.

Discussion Questions:
Why do you think this story was told with this structure? How does it help tell the story? Anon goes on a journey in the play. Where is he going? What is he searching for? Does he find it? 8.

Imagine Becoming Anon(ymous)

You are a student, with no political involvement. Your sister, a journalist, disappears and is later found murdered. Your name appears in a newspaper article listing suspected subversives. Later you receive a letter threatening your life for your alleged political activity. You decide you must flee. PACK YOUR BAG: you can only take five categories of things and only what you can carry. Think about what you would take. Odysseus loses many of his men when the Greeks encounter another group of giant man-eaters, the Laestrygonians, who feast upon the sailors. Odysseus escapes, but all the other ships in his fleet are destroyed when the giants hurl rocks down upon them.


Odysseus spends seven of his lost years held captive by the nymph goddess Calypso. She offers Odysseus earthly delights and immortality, but he only wishes to return home. Zeus himself orders Calypso to send Odysseus home so he builds a raft and once again braves the angry sea.

Does your bag contain the newspaper article or the threatening letter? No? Asylum Denied! In order to be granted asylum, a person must demonstrate a wellfounded fear that necessitates their need to escape. Discussion Questions: In the 15 minutes you took to pack up your life, did you consider needing paperwork to seek asylum in another country? How many people do you think would react as you did? Consider the impact of making decisions under pressure, reasons for personal choices, emotions evoked by the decision-making process.
Source: David Donahue and Nancy Flowers, The Uprooted: Refugees and the United States (Alameda, CA: Hunter House Publishers, 1995) 24.

Study Questions: 1. Who might the counterparts to the characters in Anon(ymous) be in The Odyssey? 2. Name and explain some of the recurring themes in Anon(ymous) and The Odyssey? 3. How are Anons travels similar and dissimilar to Odysseuss?

4. Defining the Anon(ymous) REFUGEE A person who is outside her or his country and cannot return owing to a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a political or social group. ASYLUM SEEKER Someone who has made a claim that he or she is a refugee, and is waiting for that claim to be accepted or rejected. The term contains no presumption either way - it simply describes the fact that someone has lodged the claim. Some asylum seekers will be judged to be refugees and others will not. The terms asylum seeker and refugee are often confused: an asylum seeker is someone who says he or she is a refugee, but whose claim has not yet been definitively evaluated. MIGRANT A wide-ranging term that covers most people who move to a foreign country for a variety of reasons and for a certain length of time (usually a minimum of a year, so as not to include very temporary visitors such as tourists, people on business visits etc). Different from immigrant that means someone who takes up permanent residence in a country other than his or her original homeland. ECONOMIC MIGRANT Someone who leaves their country of origin for financial reasons, rather than for refugee ones. Migrants, especially economic migrants, choose to move in order to improve the future prospects of themselves and their families. Refugees have to move if they are to save their lives or preserve

their freedom. The difference between Migrants and Refugees is CHOICE. 5. INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSON (IDP)Someone who has been forced to move from his or her home because of conflict, persecution (i.e. refugee-like reasons); or because of a natural disaster or some other unusual circumstance of this type. Unlike refugees, however, IDPs remain inside their own country. STATELESS PERSON Someone who is not considered as a national by ANY state (de jure stateless); or possibly someone who does not enjoy fundamental rights enjoyed by other nationals in their home state (de facto stateless). Statelessness can be a personal disaster: some stateless people live in a Kafkaesque netherworld where they do not officially exist and therefore have virtually no rights at all. Unlike the other groups outlined here, they may have never moved away from the place where they were born. But some stateless people are also refugees.

6. Naomi Iizukas play Anon(ymous) is the story of one refugees journey. Based on Homers The Odyssey, this play charts the experiences of the hero, Anon, through his search for home.

Ill tell you the story of my life and then you can decide. It begins in the middle. On the border. On the crossing. It begins in the place in between.

Where I come from is far away from here

Discussion Questions: 1) How is this play different from other productions you have seen this semester? 2) How does cultural understanding or misunderstandings progress the plot of Anon(ymous)? 3) In what ways did this production confirm or challenge theatrical conventions? 4) What is the significance of the names that the character of Anon chooses? How do they help to inform his character and our understanding of his journey? 5) Naomi Iizuka chooses to double cast (use one actor to play multiple roles) in her play. What is the significance of this technique? How does it help to tell the story? What did the actors do to make each character unique? 6) How do the issues in Anon(ymous) relate to events in recent memory? How do you think Anons experience relates to your own life?


Passport to


A Play Written by Naomi Iizuka