cast backstage before/after the show:
Teahouse of the August Moon opened at the Martin Beck Theatre in New
York City on October 15, 1953.
The story deals with
the United States' occupation of the island of Okinawa just after World War II, and
the American efforts
to bring democracy to it and to teach its people American ideals.
Captain Fisby (Cliff Gurdin) is sent to the small village of Tobiki, along with a native
translator named Sakini (Alan Lupi). At first, he was put off by the quaint and primitive
customs of the Okinawans ― particularly when he is
given a Geisha girl,Lotus Blossom (Sue Schlesinger), as a gift
they grow on him, and soon he's acting like a native. This distresses his
supervisor, the blustery Col. Purdy (Carl Zeitz), who sends an Army psychologist
down to check on Fisby's mental health.
| There's gentle satire in this
play, mostly at the expense of ethno-centric Americans, who always assume their
way is the best way. When none of the soldiers will buy the painstakingly
crafted ceramics or other well-made trinkets of the Tobikians, Fisby has
them start making the one thing he knows the American G.I.s will buy
Few American plays treat foreign cultures with as much respect as this one,
which is especially noteworthy considering it was written in 1953, only eight
years after the end of WWII, when
reverence for the Japanese and their culture was not exactly at its
pinnacle. Yet, the play is not preachy or moralizing. The Okinawans are
not put on a pedestal. They are shown to be at times silly, jealous and
petty ― in other words, regular people. Itís
a good-natured, laugh-out-loud funny play that gently reminds us how much beauty
there is in the world ― beauty that we, to
paraphrase Fisby, ought to be wise enough to leave alone.
beautifully and emotionally, Sue (now known as Suzanne)
disclaims credit for the recording as follows:
"To think that my Dad ( I miss him so) brought my huge
clunky tape recorder to the school and placed it by the
stage to get all the words of the show.
Interesting, the tape recorder we had was the size of a
piece of carry-on luggage. It made a bang when turned on
and off ... and he surprised me by bringing it to the
auditorium to tape the show. What a gift my father
gave to all of us! My Dad was a very special man
his whole life. He
was so gentle and loving and caring. I thought all
parents were like mine. When he taped the show, who
could know that such wonderful gifts could come from it
over 40 years later. What a blessing he did.
Just think ─
Joel, Cliff, Alan and the rest of us preserved on tape
... in our youth. I take no credit. It was truly my
Copyright © 2000-2006 by Howard B. Levy
All rights reserved.