‘Doubt’ actor draws from family history

“Doubt: A Parable” closes this weekend at Columbia Center for the Arts.

Shows are in the CAST Theater on May 17-19, at 7:30 p.m. The play runs 90 minutes, with no intermission.

“Doubt” was written by John Patrick Shanley and directed by Judie Hanel. Desiree Amyx-Mackintosh portrays Sister Aloysius, Isabel Martin plays Sister James, and Joe Garoutte portrays Father Flynn in the story, set at St. Nicholas Catholic school in 1964 on the cusp of the Second Vatican Council. The play involves a nun, Sister Aloysius, who does not approve of teachers who offer friendship and compassion instead of the discipline she feels students need in order to face a difficult world.

When she suspects Father Flynn of an unspeakable crime, she is faced with the prospect of charging him with unproved allegations and possibly destroying his position as well as her own. She enlists Sister James, and also turns to a student’s mother, Mrs. Nakamura, to build her case.

Mrs. Nakamura is played by Linda Kaplan whose maiden name was chosen for the part (Muller in the original script). Kaplan recently spoke of the racism that her own family experienced and how it connects to the small but critical role.


“Doubt” is Kaplan’s first production in 15 years. She had acted for several years in San Francisco with Asian Theater Works and other small theaters in the 1990s before starting a family; she has a son, 10.

Kaplan said that in the personal history she developed for Mrs. Nakamura, she had been interned in the camps during World War II, which her own parents experienced.

They were interned at Tule Lake Camp in California. Her father was a college student in Texas and suffered a stroke while in school, so he moved back to Sacramento in 1941. He was interned at Tule Lake, where he met his future bride, and the incarceration embittered him for the rest of his life.

Her parents were both “no-no’s,” meaning that in a loyalty questionnaire Japanese-Americans were made to take in 1942, they neither vowed to serve in the U.S. military nor renounce allegiance to Japan. Tule Lake, the harshest of the camps, was reserved for “no-nos,” and her parents were among the last released from Tule Lake.

Asked how this influenced her role as Mrs. Nakamura, Kaplan said, “Nothing in a direct sort of way but it’s sort of an underpinning just knowing what they had to go through and what they gave up.

“Really it was my dad I think of a lot of times when I’m in a role where the internment has any bearing. He said ‘If this is how they treat Americans I’m going to Japan,’ and he went to Japan for a while, but there he was an American. This was shortly after the war and obviously they were not that friendly in those days.

“He was always a bit of a bitter man. I was born 10 years after the war, and I didn’t know why he was that way, until much later.

“It’s only in retrospect, I realize it was the times my parents went through and the Depression, even in an indirect way my father’s bitterness, of course, that would have impacted my family life and the way I was brought up, just down the line.”

Hanel works with each actor to come up with a back story for their character, and Kaplan said she knew that Mrs. Nakamura herself would have incarcerated.

“She would have been 18 at the time, a formative time for her as an American citizen to be thrown in the camps, and have her family lose everything.

“(Mrs. Nakamura) is a woman who really, really loves her son and is a very strong advocate for him, a woman who is working under enormous constraints and, through no fault of her own, is living in a fairly narrow world, and because of her poverty and her race she has every few options.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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