A Play in Four Acts by Sherwood Ross
Place: Auditorium, Middle School, Nagaoka, Japan
At rise: A curtain is drawn across the entire length of the stage except extreme left. We can see several boxes and ropes, suggesting off stage. In this tiny area, Yamamoto and Reiko, are quarreling. She wears the traditional kimono. Yamamoto is a short, powerful man in his mid-Fifties. He wears a white dress navy uniform studded with medals and white gloves; a ceremonial sword dangling from his waist.)
LOUDSPEAKER: And now students, a very special treat. We are going to hear from one of our schools most illustrious former pupils, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. (Enthusiastic applause.)
Please, Isoroku, dont go out there.
Its just a few words.
Yes, and theyll kill you for them!
The hell they will! Ill say what I damn please!
Fine, but please, dont talk against going to war with America. They are going to make this war with you or without you.
(He grabs Reiko by the shoulders and looks directly into her eyes.)
I thought you were against going to war with them?
Oh, I am, I am! But if you say it, theyll kill you for it!
(Yamamoto drops his arms and turns to start onstage but Reiko grabs at his uniform. By accident one of his medals comes off in her hand and she sinks to her knees clutching it.)
Keep it for me, and stop worrying so much!
(Screams) Isoroku, youre a dead man!
(Yamamoto strides to center stage in front of curtain. Totally self-possessed, he surveys the audience with just a trace of a smile and pauses before he speaks.)
Thank you for inviting me. Only yesterday I sat where you sit now. I remember running here to the gym each morning before school, then running home for breakfast, then running back here for classes and then running home again at night. I hope you recognize what a fine school this is. It was born of sacrifice. In the last Civil War, the men of Nagaoka, my father included, fought like true samurai for their beliefs. Unfortunately, they did not prevail. The victors treated Nagaoka harshly. Our people suffered much hardship and hunger. After a time, though, the victors sent them a shipment of rice, enough to put three meals on the table of every family. But the elders did not distribute the rice. They were men of vision. Instead of eating the rice, they sold it and used the money to build this school. They sacrificed for us. What I learned here enabled me to win a scholarship to the Naval Academy at Eta Jima. My classmate, Akio Matsushita, also became an admiral. In fact, he graduated first in our class at the Academy. So you can take the knowledge you learn here and go anywhere in the world. Today, we live in troubled times. There is war in China and talk of war with America, which I hope will never come. I lived and worked in America. I studied at Harvard University, and I know the American people. Those who want to fight America call them luxury-loving and soft, people with a shallow culture who will not fight. This is a mistaken belief. Americans are not weak. They are filled with the spirit of justice. Lindberghs solo flight across the Atlantic is the sort of act that is normal for Americans -- an adventure based on science. As Japan cannot defeat America militarily, Japan should not fight America. Those of you who learn the lessons of history will avoid errors of this sort. So study hard, sacrifice for the future as our fathers sacrificed for you, and whenever you can, run both ways to and from school.
(Flash bulbs pop. Sound of applause. Yamamoto salutes the audience, executes a smart left face and strides directly into the kitchen of his home with no break in the action. Reiko, his wife, follows him angrily.)"Yamamoto's Decision" by Sherwood Ross IS COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL AND MAY NOT BE DOWNLOADED, TRANSMITTED, PRINTED OR PERFORMED WITHOUT THE EXPRESS PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR
This scene performed at No Shame/Charlottesville on January 4, 2002, by Sherwood Ross.