May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) will kick it off with its May 1 virtual Gala and Auction.

A full month of events and activities are also scheduled.

The gala variety show, which is free to the public, will feature a diverse slate of entertainment and special guests. Co-hosts for the online show are Derek Mio, Jully Lee and Amy Hill. The online auction – featuring unique arts and crafts, gourmet meals, sports outings and other one-of-a-kind items – is also open to the public and will close on May 1 at 8 p.m.

During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, JANM is hosting virtual events including:

• Saturday, May 8, to Friday, May 21: A free play, “Question 27, Question 28”

This drama explores the experiences of Japanese American women during the World War II concentration camps. This is an abridged version of the original by Chay Yew, and it is directed by Jully Lee and shortened and edited for families.

Watch on JANM’s YouTube Channel starting on May 8.

• Thursday, May 13, 6 to 7:30 p.m. “Nikkei Uncovered” a poetry reading

JANM’s second annual virtual poetry reading with a powerful poet lineup featured in Discover Nikkei’s “Nikkei Uncovered”: a poetry column, hosted by poet and performer traci kato-kiriyama. This year, pairs of poets will be reading works in conversation with each other. kato-kiriyama will also provide writing prompts for audience members to reflect on. Featured poets are Amy Uyematsu and Miya Iwataki, Curtiss Takada Rooks and Mariko Fujimoto Rooks, and Shō Tanaka and Paulette M. Moreno.

Tickets are a suggested donation of $10.

• Thursday, May 20, 1 to 2 p.m. “Detention/Resistance: Japanese American and Latinx Histories of Incarceration”

Featured speakers: Shizu Saldamando, Kazuma Julio Cesar Naganuma, and Jesus Barraza. Moderated by Clement Hanami, art director at JANM. This panel of Japanese American and Latinx artists and experts will speak about these communities’ connected histories of violence and displacement, and also to the interwoven stories of resistance and community power that were built out of times of pressure.

Free but RSVPs for this virtual zoom event are required.

• Sunday, May 23, 1 to 2:30 p.m. The Eighth Annual Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest Awards Ceremony

Each year, this contest heightens awareness of Little Tokyo by asking writers to pen a story. The ceremony will feature theatre artists Greg Watanabe, Jully Lee, and Eiji Inoue, and showcases the winning stories with dramatic readings from the three contest categories—Adult, Youth, and Japanese Language. The contest is presented by Little Tokyo Historical Society in partnership with JANM’s Discover Nikkei project.

RSVPs for this virtual zoom event are required.

• Tuesday, May 25, 12 to 12:45 p.m. Art Break – Interactive sculpture workshop with Ako Castuera

Sculptor Ako Castuera will teach participants how to make and form an easy bakers clay using just flour, salt, and water, inspired by artist Ruth Asawa, who also used this simple medium to create sculptures. Castuera is informed by the diverse cultural and environmental features of Southern California on Tongva land, where she was born and currently lives.

RSVPs are required for this virtual Zoom event.

For more information or questions, contact publicprograms@janm.org.

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