Yoshié Bancroft’s labour of love, Japanese Problem, hasn’t even opened yet, and already the 31-year-old Jessie-award-winning actor and her creative partner, director Joanna Garfinkel, have been hearing from people across the country.
“It’s been really exciting, the response so far, and we haven’t done the show!” Bancroft laughs a little in amazement. “We did a small teaser version of Japanese Problem at the Powell Street Festival, but the response has been really positive. We’re getting messages from various organizations in Toronto, the Kootenays, the Interior, and people who are interested in bringing the show to them.”
It’s what Bancroft has been working toward since she toured the PNE Livestock Building in 2015 with a group from the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre. She’d grown up going to Playland, unaware that it was where more than 8,000 Japanese-Canadians, just like her, were held and “processed” during the Second World War. Now, sitting here with the Straight at Kafka’s on Main Street, she’s two weeks from the first full-length performance of Japanese Problem—staged right in the stables where the injustices took place.
She didn’t necessarily envision herself as a producer when she started acting at Arts Umbrella when she was 14, or even when she graduated from UBC’s theatre program in 2008. “But I feel like it kind of goes hand in hand with being an actor in this city,” Bancroft says. “You want to do certain work, so at the end of the day, if you’re not getting those jobs then you’re going to make the jobs for yourself.”
Japanese Problem isn’t Bancroft’s only project this month, let alone this fall. She’s costarring in Adult Company at the Vancouver Fringe Festival to September 16. Japanese Problem opens September 22, and after it wraps its run on September 30, it will tour to Kaslo, B.C., from October 6 to 8 as part of an event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the internment. After that, Bancroft will head to Presentation House Theatre in North Vancouver for The Double Axe Murders, running from October 25 to November 5. There will also be a Japanese Problem exhibit at the Nikkei Museum from September 30 through January 2018.
“I’m feeling a little tired,” Bancroft admits with a laugh. “But my heart is full and I’m so happy to be doing all the things that I’m doing. This year’s been full of validation, which has been really powerful as an artist.”More