WHY:Teruko! Teruko the Original! This solo show will have the hardest of humans laughing unexpectedly and then, with a whisper of a word, bring you to stillness. As I sat watching Teruko, I was struck by her authenticity, her powerful ability to honor her true self and to manifest her destiny despite the pains and tribulations she has experienced. There was a freedom exuding from Teruko that made me in awe: a freedom that only comes from finding ways to continue out of the dark into the light.
As I left the theatre I found myself still smiling and shouting: Teruko the Hero! As the show came to an end she brought us all to our feet and each person in that audience was not only rooting for her continued success in living her best life, we also came away with a better understanding of how vital it is for each of us to bet on ourselves – the necessity of having empathy for one another and a better understanding of who we are collectively. And perhaps greater care for what it means to be an American. I swear to you: DON’T miss this show!
Fringe Femmes 2022 are a bold cohort of women who are presenting new plays, original works and solo shows that have raised the bar on what it means to be an artist, tell one’s story and continue the work by any means necessary. Each year I am reminded that no matter the obstacles or the times in which we live, you cannot stop theatre as an art form from expanding, thriving and being a vessel to reveal, heal and nurture. LAFPI has the special ability to connect women from a wide variety of cultures and experiences together in their shared love of theatre.
This year continues to expand on that legacy and by golly I’m over the moon to introduce Teruko [which mean shining girl] Nakajima who is a bright light in dark times. “Made in America“ features Teruko, a first-generation Japanese artist, a brave girl who by her own will shares her difficult journey with us through singing, dancing and stories that she swears we don’t know about Japan and America!
Constance Strickland: What’s been your biggest battle in terms of your development/process?
Teruko Nakajima: Writing “Made In America” was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life because it was my brutally raw autobiography. Facing the truth was super difficult. Plus English is my second language, so that was never easy. Fortunately my lovely director Mr. John Flynn, understood my voice with great empathy, fixed my writings beautifully and created this show for me. Without him, I wouldn’t be able to make it.
Constance: After the lights and the audience disappear what do you hope one remembers or takes away after seeing your show?
Teruko: I do hope that they are all kind to themselves and have compassion for themselves, too, like the show that I learned in America. I also want them to know that Titi (my dog) and I love them super much! (We sent extra love to our Ms. Jennie who was super kindly there for us. She made us super happy!)
Constance: What joy did you discover when creating your show?
Teruko: Honestly I couldn’t enjoy any of the process at all until I did my first preview show. As an overachiever, I have a tendency to be hard on myself. But once I finished it, I realized that I just gave birth to a masterpiece! That’s when I felt joy and relief.
Constance: What has been the most delicious discovery as you created your original work.
Teruko: I learned that being original is the mightiest because it’s vulnerable, challenging and courageous. And no one can take that away from me. I feel so invincible now.
Constance: How does it feel to have an opportunity to share your work with an in-person audience?
Teruko: I’ve always loved performing live on stage because I could feel the real human connections with the audiences. Especially as “Made In America’’ was very personal, it was very important for me to see their reactions too. Since Covid, it has been a true blessing for me to do live shows.
Constance: What influenced this new work? How long have you been sitting with this work? Why Fringe? Why now?
Teruko: “Moonlight” taught me the need to write about violent subjects. I was so related to the protagonist emotionally, and that encouraged me to share my own story of violence. The original play of “Fleabag” taught me the need to write my story in a clear, cheeky and honest way. It took me 6 months to finish writing “Made In America”. Super thanks to The Hollywood Fringe Festival’s scholarship program, I could get to perform my very first solo show this year!