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Latino book recommendations, Oceanside Zine Fest, and sumo wrestling

 September 21, 2023 at 3:08 PM PDT

S1: It's time for Midday Edition on Kpbs. Today , we are highlighting books written about the rich cultural experiences of the Hispanic community. I'm Jade Hindman. Here's to conversations that keep you informed , inspired and make you think. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month , a San Diego librarian is giving her reading recommendations for kids.

S2: I look for a book that really does what the month is all about justice.

S1: Plus , we'll tell you about the analog art at Oceanside's Zine Festival. And the La Jolla Playhouse hosts the world premiere of Sumo. That's ahead on Midday Edition. Books are a way we can see ourselves reflected in the world. They can teach us about who we are. Our culture and history , especially for kids. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month , we want to highlight a few books that do just that. Keisha Graham is a San Diego librarian who's launching a program called Librarian on the Go , and she has some recommendations for us. Katya , welcome.

S2: Thank you so much for having me. Hello. Hi.

S1: Hi. We're so glad you are here today.

S2: So for children's books , it's colorful illustrations. It's those stories that speak to the heart. Hispanic culture is so much about togetherness , family and food. So I especially love books that reflect that.

S1: And you've organized a lot of storytimes. Are there any specific stories or themes that have really resonated with kids or made them reflect on their heritage in a different way ? Yes.

S2: Just yesterday I led a Hispanic Heritage Month story time. It was bilingual in Spanish , and the two books that we read were Sonia , Doris or Dreamers by Judy Morales and Ricardo and Animal Ethos. So two books about two artists. So the kids loved thinking about Hispanic culture through art , and there was a fun activity afterward.

S3: All right.

S1: And , you know , let's go ahead and start with some picture books.

S2: That book is wonderful. It's about a girl who misses her idea and makes her signature empanadas recipe to take to her where she's volunteering. So classes get to leave with a copy of that recipe. A beloved book is Alma and how she Got her name or Alma number by Juana martinez Neal. And that is about a little Latin girl who has quite a long name , and she's not sure how she feels about it , but it turns out that every one of her names is after someone special in her family and she learns why. And Alma is the name that is just for her so she can write her own story.


S2: Mercy is a sixth grader and she's grappling with the sweet and salty that Medina says just goes with writing for middle grade. We can all remember what we struggled with in middle school and mercy. She has a tight knit family and her abuela is acting differently and they're coming to terms with why.

S1: And there are also a lot of books for teens.

S2: By Erika Sanchez. It was a National Book Award finalist , and it is about this very much about two sisters. Unfortunately , one of them dies and the sister left behind. She struggles with her relationship with her parents because can she live up to this , the daughter that they lost ? And she learns some information and she has a dilemma about whether to share that with her family because it might mean changing the way they think about the daughter they lost. Hmm.

S3: Hmm.


S2: There's the expectations that your family has for you , and everyone can understand that. And as a Latina in the United States , you know , my parents brought their own expectations and have a lot of hope for you. They came to this country.

S1: I'm Jade Hindman. I'm speaking with Keisha Graham , a San Diego youth services librarian , about her reading recommendations for Hispanic Heritage Month. Katia , I want to talk more about your background as a librarian.

S2: We stand for freedom of information. We believe everyone has a story. And being a librarian , I get to keep a pulse on the community just like I did when I was a reporter , and that's really a privilege.

S1: You're also launching Librarian on the Go. Tell me more about that and some of the organizations you work with. Sure.

S2: Sure. A librarian on the go is a catalyst to encourage reading and community engagement through outreach librarian services. One thing I learned as a librarian is that you have to go out to draw people in. I am blessed. I get to work with the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego Music Society , some schools , and it is a great way to show how librarianship can be plugged into what a nonprofit or a school is doing and enhance it for the betterment of the community and literacy.

S1: And you're also working to combat book bans , which are spreading across the country in our schools and libraries. As a children's librarian , what have you seen and how does this impact our kids and types of stories they get to read ? Yes.

S2: So I am a member of the Freedom to Read Statement Revision subgroup for the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom. I know it's a mouthful , but we're looking at the freedom to read statement , which is a crucial tool that librarians use to defend the books that are in the collection and the books that they are highlighting. So we're going to gather the feedback that we get from these five listening sessions coming up in the fall and present it to the Office for Intellectual Freedom so that they can inform the statement next year. Hmm.

S3: Hmm.


S2: Of course. I love I love Spanish authors and one of the the authors that spoke to me a lot is Miguel de Unamuno. And the short stories that I read that he wrote like Sung Manuel Bueno. I read them in high school and it made me think about , you know , what am I doing ? Why am I doing that ? Should I be a martyr like the character in his story ? And so those classic Spanish literature books that I read in high school are the ones that really made me appreciate literature. Because once you get into it and you start seeing the symbols and the themes from the authors , it's like an amazing code that you can discover in the books.


S2: It might be hard to be Hispanic enough or American enough , and maybe you're not one or the other. You're a combination of both , and that's its own identity. And that is okay. When I was growing up , it was more one or the other. But today there's a growing acceptance of , you know , we're both we're our past and were our present in the United States.

S1: And that speaks to my next question.

S2: They're a huge part of the community of the country. And it goes right into EDI equity , diversity and inclusion. Everybody should be represented in a book. There should be a book for everyone. So when you see yourself in a book , in that story , you'll see that there is somebody there who is going through what you're going through and understands , even if your family doesn't understand , even if those kids at school don't understand. Yeah.

S3: Yeah.

S1: And you know what have you heard from the kids you've worked with ? You talked a bit about a story time you did. What's been like the reaction from kids.

S2: Smiles is a celebration of their culture , of the way that their mom speaks Spanish to them or their abuela speaks Spanish to them. Even the kids who are not Latino , they can appreciate it. And when we start celebrating different cultures early on , it sets up the people who are exposed to that and enjoying God up for a lifetime of appreciating multiculturalism.


S2: It's going to be bilingual in Spanish at 12:30 p.m. on their previous family play day , So admission will be free. San Diego Public Library has an amazing lineup of programs called Nuestra Cultura. And the one I'm really excited for people to go to is going to be at Central Library. There's going to be some tortilla making , there's going to be a storytime , and then there's going to be a screening of the movie Encanto , and that's going to be on Tuesday , September 26th at 5 p.m..

S1: Sounds like a lot of fun. I've been speaking with San Diego Youth Services librarian Katia Graham. Katia , thank you so much for joining us.

S2: Thank you so much for having me.

S1: Coming up , Arts Calendar editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans takes us to Oceanside's Zine Festival.

S4: These are fun. They're creative. It's a part of archiving stories and also like gathering with community when you trade.

S1: You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. A new festival will make space for a growing Zen movement in Oceanside this weekend. Dozens of zine makers , artists , musicians and vendors will descend upon the Hill Street Country Club , all celebrating an enduring form of analog art. Kpbs arts reporter Julia Dixon Evans spoke with the people behind the festival. Dinah pianist , co-founder and artistic director of the Hill Street Country Club , and Brooks Reeder , founder of Lunchtime Print House and one of the coordinators of the Oceanside Zine Library. Here's that conversation. You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. A new festival will make space for a growing zine movement in Oceanside this weekend. Dozens of zine makers , artists , musicians and vendors will descend upon the Hill Street Country Club , all celebrating an enduring form of analog art. Kpbs arts reporter Julia Dixon Evans spoke with the people behind the festival. Pianist , co-founder and artistic director of the Hill Street Country Club and Brooks Reeder , founder of Lunchtime Print House and one of the coordinators of the Oceanside Zine Library. Here's that conversation.

S5: Dana , I want to start with you.

S4: And also it's an opportunity for our artists to extend outside their gallery exhibition into something that's , you know , again , accessible to our community. And , you know , these are fun. They're creative. It's a part of archiving stories and also like gathering with community when you trade.

S5: I love that. And and Brooks , you publish scenes and you have been a big part of the zine movement in Oceanside.

S6: I've always enjoyed taking photos for fun as a hobby. Anytime I travel , I bring my camera and I shoot primarily film. And I just was kind of tired of , you know , getting the pictures back from development and not doing anything with them. And I had a buddy at work who made zines , and he one time suggested I do that as a way to show show my photos. And I'm a graphic designer by trade. And so I've always enjoyed page layout in magazines and stuff like that. And so it kind of combined a couple loves of mine in creating them. And like I said , I started about 15 years ago and I haven't looked back.

S5: So zines have this rich history. It's a way of sharing messages , activism , art and connecting community long before the Internet have made those sorts of things more instantly shareable , you know , without having to cut things and photocopy little books. But zines have persisted. What is it about this art form that is so enduring ? Bricks.

S6: I think for me , my favorite thing is that there's no rules. You can do whatever you want. You can make a zine about your cat , you can make a zine about your favorite band or , you know , the skate scene in your town and share that with with anybody. And I think in this time and age where everybody's taking pictures with their phone and they take a picture and they see it and then it goes away , this is a cool way to , you know , to share with others and have something tactile in your hands. And it's really fun teaching kids about zines and showing them that there's more they can do with their photos than just , you know , take a selfie and post it on Instagram. Yeah.

S5: Yeah. Thinking about that tactile nature.

S6: You know , and it may show my age , but I think it's always great to to to know the history of things and where things came from. And so , you know , when somebody designs something on the computer , it's it's good to know where that came from first , that , you know , people designed it with a pen and paper and screen printing. I don't know. It just gets gets people out of the house. It gets them moving instead of just sitting in front of their computer or their phone.


S4: Ago , and we had our first group show and it was ten artists with five images of Oceanside. And Brooks suggested a zine. And that was the first time I knew about zines. But it was the first time I've ever engaged in creating a zine for anything , period. And we made that zine. And it's crazy because history is now ten years old and we have these scenes from past exhibitions and from Oceanside five by ten , and it's kind of like a memory book for us , like a family picture book or like scrapbook for us to like look at our zines from past shows. And it shows how we have grown kind of like babies growing into this , like this new organization and , and expanding our family as an organization. And it's it's crazy to like look back at zines and how it has archived and like sustain memory for us through those like , you know , analog experiences with the zine. So things have been important for us in general. It just remind us who we are and it gives us an opportunity to reflect. And you know , whenever I'm talking to someone , I don't have the words. I'm like , Here's a zine. And , you know , like , look through this for a second. Take it home. I think it's a great way to store memories and share them.

S5: And Brick's zines have their roots in political activism , but also in more frivolous corners of creativity.

S6: I did read that , you know , they did start in the 30s , 20s and 30s with science fiction , which I found very interesting. And they had samples of these zines. And , you know , I think the biggest part about zines is that there it's that DIY movement. Do it yourself where you're , you know , you're if you're a fan of something and it doesn't exist , you make it yourself. And I think zines had another big push in the 80s again before the internet when with punk rock and skateboarding , because people would have these movements in their towns and they'd want to tell other people about it. Or maybe they had , you know , they lived in Ohio and they had a cousin in Florida and that and so they would mail the zines to them. And that was a way of sharing what's going on in their town. And , you know , so if somebody was to come to that town , you know , maybe they picked up a scene from there and then , you know , they've become friends with those people and they have a place to stay or know what to do in that town.

S5: I also want to talk about the accessibility of it.

S6: And so I think it's just a fun way to to , to express yourself and , and what you need is basically , you know , back in the day , they just have a photocopiers and you can go to any Fedex and make photocopies. And , you know , back before everybody was designing on computer , you could take , you know , a magazine filled with stuff you like or photos you took and photocopy them and put them in a little booklet. And all you need is paper and staples to staple it together. But you don't even need that. You can just fold it. There's tons of creative ways to fold the scenes where you don't even need staples , and that's part of the fun with zines is , like I said at the beginning , is there's no rules. Your zine can be , you know , five inches tall or it could be 12in tall and it could be out of cardboard , it could be out of canvas , paper , whatever you want. And that's what's kind of cool is there's no boundaries with scenes.

S5: San Diego and Southern California have this big history with DIY art and zines. But I want to talk about Oceanside Zine movement in particular. Dana The Hill Street Country Club has worked with zines in some capacity for the past ten years , including supporting the Oceanside Zine Library.

S4: We have paper cuts that was co-founded by Brooks and our other friend Charlie Baez tosay and artists came together and will hold space in the gallery and community. Birds will come in and create zones with us and we will have certain themes. What's the best thing about the Z movement in Oceanside is still quiet , and we're hoping that we can wake it up a little bit more is that we started archiving and cataloging with the Oceanside Public Library , and it was amazing to see how many locals and folks from outside of our community like to share their zines with the Oceanside Public Library and have it accessible to anyone with a library card. And now every time we have an exhibition or we work with other artists who don't have exhibition , we try to create a scene with them. And right away we catalog it with our Oceanside Public Library because it has the same value as like archiving with your historical society. And it's another way to legitimize your work , but also to document your memories through civic identity and civic engagement. And so the library has been a big vessel for Hill Street Country Club and lunchtime print house to creating a space in Oceanside for zines. And so I don't know , I just think that we're still in the beginning stage and I'm hoping that Oceanside fare , you know , brings out more people. And and we have an opportunity to educate the purpose of a zine fair because it's , you know , once again , zines are not just like you can have your poetry and design , you can have a political scene. If you're a person who's a writer and you're not getting published , that is something that you could do on your own through a zine. And I don't know , I think it's I think it's important for us to like , share all types of practices in art. And this is a big communicator.

S5: So can you talk about the Oceanside Zine Library a little bit more and how that came about , what it looks like , how people can check it out ? Sure.

S6: So I feel like in Dana can correct me , but I feel like we we worked with the library during Covid. We came up with this idea and we we put the call out and we I believe we had over 100 people submit to do the zine library. And we had people all the way from Germany. We had people all over the world send us scenes , which was really cool. And when we , you know , when we first sent it out , Dana was able to get a grant. So we were actually able to buy the scenes from the Zoom makers , which I thought was the neatest part about it. So it didn't seem like we were just trying to get free zines. And so we were able to buy them from the zine vendors and then they sent them to me and I collected them. And then we worked with the library to get them all catalogued. And it was really neat to send out an email to all the people to say , Look , you can log on to Oceanside Library and put in author and put your name in and you're going to show up , which I think a lot of people don't think there's INS are going to go much farther than their friends. So that was really neat. And when I visited the library , it's at the mission branch. They have a whole build out for the zines and it's really cool. You can go in there and check them out , like Dana said. But we also the subject matter is all over the place. There's poetry , comic books , photography , political , and that's really what scenes are like I keep saying is can be anything. And I think the Oceanside Scene library really shows that and it shows , you know , somebody who maybe was interested in zines that anybody can do it. Okay.

S5: Okay. Let's talk a little bit about the actual festival. There are two days and the first is kind of a kickoff evening event with music performances and DJs books. Can you tell us about about some of what's happening that first night and some of those bands ? Yeah.

S6: So the first night we really wanted to treat it like an art opening because really that's , I think one of the things that Hill Street Country Club does the best or their art openings. And it also I feel like doing it at night it might get some people in there that don't know what scenes are and they just want to come for the food or the bands. And then and then they'll get educated on what scenes are. And just to let everybody know out there , they are called scenes , not zines. I get that a lot with newcomers , but it's fun to have people come up of all ages wondering even what they are. I think that's my favorite part about doing zine fairs is talking to the people. It's always fun to sell them , obviously , but I love talking to the people and educating and getting people excited about it. But yeah , so we have three bands playing , but I think it's going to be real fun. We have some some food vendors there and drinks and it's really going to be , like I said , we visioned it to be like an art opening , and then Sunday is more like a traditional zine fair where during the day. We have workshops that are going to happen , some talks , and I think we even have a kids table where kids can come and learn about zines and do their own things. But again , that's kind of more Dinah's side of it.

S4: I'm Community Engagement Saturday and we have three bands are all from Oceanside and part of the Bipoc punk scene , the Shindig Bags. And there's a newer band. Um , the Phases created a band , so this is going to be their first performance as a band. But also we have our pages group art show. We have 20 artists that submitted for the art show , and it's just one page from a zine exhibit group show that's going to be in the gallery and Flavor Lab. A vegan vendor , food vendor from City Heights is coming up and spending the day with us. And also Lulu is doing a pop up bookstore , which we're really excited about because they're going to take over a space in the gallery that's that's in the back that most people don't ever visit. Everyone always go to the front , but it's going to be in the back and there's an outdoor entrance and they're going to have a pop up bookstore. And that's where we're going to have our talks with Akiko Sarai with their Postmark project about tattoos and about artworks , who's going to do a zinc folding workshop and a mental health design workshop in the space. So yeah , we have a lot of activities for all ages. We're going to be hitting like all the fun marks , like food and music. And so I'm really hoping that people take advantage of the celebratory experience of zines and appreciating the artists who are going to spend their whole day on Sunday with us. It's going to be an amazing experience. So we haven't done anything with zines like in a gathering space since the pandemic , and we kind of took a pause. So I'm really excited to gather again in this capacity and it's been a minute , so I'm looking forward to like appreciating zine artists and celebrating the arts in Oceanside and just gathering in community. It's going to be a good two day weekend.

S1: That was Kpbs arts reporter Julia Dixon Evans speaking with Brooks Reeder , founder of Lunchtime Print House and one of the coordinators of the Oceanside Zine Library , and Dana Planets , co-founder and artistic director of the Hill Street Country Club. The festival will kick off on Saturday , September 23rd and Sunday , September 24th. That was Kpbs arts reporter Julia Dixon Evans speaking with Brooks Reader , founder of Lunchtime Print House and one of the coordinators of the Oceanside Zine Library , and Dana Pollinates , co-founder and artistic director of the Hill Street Country Club. The festival will kick off on Saturday , September 23rd and Sunday , September 24th. Coming up , arts and culture reporter Beth Accomando tells us about the world premiere of Sumo at the La Jolla Playhouse.

S7: I wanted to tell the story of someone who is rising to power inside of a structured hierarchy , who is also challenging that hierarchy and then is also so changed by the system which he is in that he doesn't know who he is at the end of it.

S1: You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. Welcome back to Kpbs Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. Next week , La Jolla Playhouse hosts the world premiere of Sumo , a play that looks into an elite sumo training facility in Tokyo. Six men practice , live together and ultimately fight each other there. Kpbs arts reporter Beth Accomando speaks with playwright Lisa Sania , drawing about the beauty , power and rich tradition of Japanese sumo wrestling.

S8: Lisa , you have a play called Sumo.

S7: It was around I'm Japanese American Hafu. And so I had grown up and it was just sort of something that was on sometimes. And I sort of followed it and I was like , This is amazing when I watch it and then forgot about it when I didn't watch it. And then I went to Japan and I saw Basho , I saw a tournament live. And I was so entranced by the idea or the feeling of a sport being so powerful and so ferocious and so wild , and then also so restrained and so filled with ceremony and honor , like the amount of tradition that is present in there and the amount of ritual that takes place is so different than any sport I know in America that it really mess with my paradigms. And so then I was like , Wow , that's incredible. And I just thought about it for a really long time. And then I pitched it to MacDowell as a residency idea , and they picked it up and I was like , Well , I guess I'm writing this play now. And I spent a winter really thinking about it and developing it in East West Players Writers Group. So at the core of it two , I felt looking back , I think I was trying to understand men and learn how to love men and be with these people , men specifically that I feel like I didn't understand. And now we're here.

S8: And what kind of story did you want to tell ? Using Sumo as kind of the backdrop.

S7: I wanted to tell the story of someone who is rising to power inside of a structured hierarchy , who's also challenging that hierarchy and then is also so changed by the system which he is in that he doesn't know who he is at the end of it.

S8: Now , at the rehearsal , there was a lot of focus on the choreography that's going on and about the movement just just movement without language. So talk about the part that that plays in communicating a lot of what's going on.

S7: So sometimes there is a ton , like a literal ton of power when you like , do the math on like two bodies hitting each other like that , that's there. And so that is hopefully what we are portraying to the audience of like how strong these men are. And I'm trying to let that be a language of the piece. And , you know , I can get really interested in heightened language and what like verbal language can do. And I'm hoping that letting the body speak and tell the story is also speaking to what silence and corporeal forms can do. So. The answer is I'm not quite sure yet because we haven't done it yet. And also I am. I think we're all mindful of like the beauty of the form and that being one of the core tenets of the piece. I also think it's really beautiful because we're doing it really safely. Like we have Chelsea Pace and James Yoshi-hashi working on the fights together. And so having that journey of building that physicality of La Jolla Playhouse says that they are a safe place to make unsafe work. And so how do we do something that is categorically dangerous like it is ? They do it safely in the sport , but it is a lot of power. How do we create that story while also being respectful of the bodies on stage who are doing it ? And so in building this , how do we tell this audience , this story , and then how do we create a safe space for us to do this ? I'm really moved.

S8: And what kind of research did you do into sumo wrestling ? I mean , watching it is one thing , but kind of creating a play where that is such a big part of it.

S7: So with research , I read a lot and I watched a lot of documentaries and then I just started emailing people and being like , Hey , I see you're a sumo wrestler , do you want to talk to me ? And I've gone to a bunch of tournaments in America , and then I've like , I've gone to some practice here in the States , and actually I know someone who's into theater and sumo , so that was like an in for me. So I was like , Tell me about what got you involved. And now now we have James , who's from Japan , and he's working on the show , who really is embedded in the culture and has people who are in that world. So I'm trying to get more and more invested. But it's interesting , like as I do the play , I start talking to more people like someone who is a referee for that reached out to me and was like , Oh , hey , I hear you're doing this. Someone who wrote a book about it sent that book to me. So it's just it's emerging like I'm getting more immersed in the world and learning about the world of the play as I am making it.


S7: And so it made me think about like what an athlete is , what a devotional practice is , and how you give your whole self to it like they live A is where these men live and train , especially before they're professional wrestlers. They have to live together and they eat all their meals together and it's literally the translation is stable. So it's like , what is it to completely revolutionize your mindset from being an entity onto oneself into a part of this machine ? And that's also Japanese culture as well , Like being Japanese American. There's that feeling , that unified consciousness of like , you are the people around you that I feel and that I also don't feel at all being American. And so that , you know , in America , to fight to be a champion is to rise above everyone else. And I think that. Friction. That juxtaposition of what it is like to live in a unified mindset and then also rise above is really interesting to me.


S7: And I think encountering something with humility and curiosity and respect and asking a lot of questions is useful. And so I'm trying to do the best we can and keep checking in with the communities involved. I mean , Sumo is amazing and it's getting a a resurgence or a resurgence here in America , like people are interested in it. And so I think people are excited that. It's.

S9: It's.

S7: Beauty and it's like intensity and it's it's magnitude is is reaching us.

S10: Needs some shit. Oh , shit.

S8: And I got to go to one of the rehearsals and see some of the practice that was going on. And you had a drummer to kind of set the tone and there was a lot of ritual just to the rehearsal process. So what has that been like actually going through that rehearsal and getting all these actors kind of acclimated to the sumo world ? Yeah.

S7: I mean , in any rehearsal room you enter a new universe. So this is a universe where we bow before we go into the rehearsal room , everybody and we take our shoes off for there's a part of the stage we can't wear shoes in because it's where they fight. But also it's very Japanese to take your shoes off when you enter a space. You know , we're a. Mixed.

S9: Mixed.

S7: Cultural room and there's a lot of Asian men in the room. And I think that there's this play's about creating a brotherhood of sorts. So seeing how everybody stretches together in the morning , sometimes I join , but usually they just do it. And seeing what , you know , engaging with those rituals and moving one's body in sequence and learning the rules of this , even the language training of like how we pronounce a thing undergoing that is just part of the way that families are formed , the way we form a culture with one language. And I see it in every play , but every play does it very differently. And so it's been really beautiful to see the way we've entered it in this space , how we're forming a family. I mean , this isn't sumo related , but like our snack table is crazy because we're Asian and so we're like , let's feed each other. So everybody's bringing all kinds of foods like a lot of which are Japanese treats , but it's just really beautiful to be able to connect because this is a play in America for Asian people. For many audiences , but also to feel like what it is to not only bring in Japanese culture and sumo culture , but also to create a place for Asian men to have lead roles and to be with one another. And then also , you know , part of the intention of this play was so that. We as Asians , Asian Americans wouldn't have to talk about whiteness and wouldn't have to talk about racism in America , which is something that I think is a really wonderful conversation and is also a place where often we are addressing how we've been victimized. And so in this play , it leads with , Oh , that's not the conversation here. We are not. Having to prove our masculinity. Not me , but the men on stage and the people on stage are not having to prove their masculinity because it's not challenged , which I feel like in many conversations in the theater right now , whiteness is assaulting some parts of Asian ness. And , you know , it's tricky. I don't know all the answers to this conversation , but I'm hoping that this play. Creates a new form of questions , which is like , what is good for our community that isn't ? Face on fighting racism or looking at the worst cultural trauma we've had.


S7: No , I think they should just come. We're trying to create an invitation and an open space where there are some things that are explained in some things that aren't , but give people enough information to come along for the ride. The primary intention is not to teach people about the sport. It is to illuminate humanity inside of this sport. And so I hope both are happening. And it would be great if people left here and were like , Oh , let's go watch this. You know , it's amazing.

S8: And talk a little bit about working with James and what he's doing in terms of choreographing these fights. It's a. Lot.

S7: Lot. James is a martial artist who also has a lot of knowledge in Sumo , So like , he knows what fighting techniques are acceptable and what's not. He also being raised in Japan , knows about the ritual involved and like , you know , the what things mean. So things you see like when a sumo wrestler wins , they do this chopping motion , which means heart. They're spelling out the kanji for heart. And James understands like the substrate of that and why that is happening. And so in any theater process , you are essentially rising in some ways. So you're finding out what can we do in this form ? And so we are figuring out. All the things that are involved with this and then figuring out what is the core that we need to say. And it's wonderful to work with him because he lives in America. He's very much an American and so thinks about what that translation is. He describes himself as fully Japanese and fully American. His family lives in both places. And so being able to speak that language really beautifully illuminates a lot and has changed the text just from working it out with people.

S8: And you mentioned that part of the reason you tackled this was that you wanted to understand men better and love them better.

S7: And a lot of this has to do with the director Ralph Pena's work. I'm. Hugely. I mean , and he's been with this piece for two years now , and the way he leads space is really beautiful. I think that this play , I mean , something I hope and I think is happening with this play is that this play creates fraternity and connection amongst the people in it. And Ralph is a wonderful leader in the Asian American theatre field who has engendered that for decades in our cultures.

S8: All right. Well , I want to thank you very much for talking about Sumo.

S7: Thanks for having me.

S1: That was Beth Accomando speaking with playwright Lisa Sania during her play Sumo has its world premiere at La Jolla Playhouse on September 26th. Look for Bath's behind the scenes story on Evening Edition next week. Thanks for joining us on Midday Edition today. If you ever miss a show. You can find the Midday Edition podcast on all platforms. Don't forget to watch Evening Edition tonight at five for in-depth reporting on San Diego issues. The roundtable is here tomorrow at noon. Before we go , I want to thank the midday edition team producers Julianna Domingo , Brooke Ruth and Andrew Bracken , assistants Ariana Clay and Laura McCaffrey , art segment contributors Beth Accomando and Julia Dixon Evans , our technical producers Rebecca Chacon and Adrian Villalobos. The music you're hearing is from San Diego's own Sure Fire Soul Ensemble. I'm Jade Hindman. Thanks again for listening and have a great weekend , everyone.

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A promotional poster for Oceanside Zine Fest is shown in an undated photo.
The Hill Street Country Club
A promotional poster for Oceanside Zine Fest is shown in an undated photo.

Midday Edition returns with another show on how you can get your arts and culture fix this weekend. This Hispanic Heritage Month, a San Diego children’s librarian offers reading recommendations for your kids and teens.

Also, the Oceanside Zine Fest is a celebration of the city’s growing zine movement, with zinemakers, artists, musicians and vendors coming together to celebrate the analog form of art.

And finally, the La Jolla Playhouse is premiering “SUMO,” a play that looks into an elite sumo training facility in Tokyo.


Katia Graham, youth services librarian, La Jolla-Riford Library

Brookes Reeder, founder of Lunchtime Printhouse and coordinator of the Oceanside Zine Library

Dinah Poellnitz, co-founder and artistic director of The Hill Street Country Club

Julia Dixon Evans, KPBS/arts producer and editor

Beth Accomando, KPBS arts reporter

Lisa Sanaye Dring, playwright of “SUMO”