- The Cocktail Party
Acts one and four are set in summer 1995 in Washington, D.C. Acts two and three are set in summer 1971 in Okinawa. The plot involves two families: the Okinawans Mr. and Mrs. Uehara and their daughter, Yōko; and the Americans Mr. Miller, his wife, Helen, and their son, Ben. The parents first meet in Okinawa in 1971.
Cast of Characters (in order of appearance)
Yōko, Uehara’s daughter and wife of Ben Miller, age 17 in 1971
Mr. Uehara, Okinawan, age 48 in 1971
Ben Miller, lawyer in Washington D.C., age 40 in 1995
Helen, Mr. Miller’s wife, English teacher, age 45 in 1971
Mr. Morgan, American civilian, age 45 in 1971
Mr. Lincoln, American civilian, age 35 in 1971
Mr. Ogawa, Japanese newspaper reporter, age 43 in 1971
Mr. Yang, Chinese lawyer, occasionally working in Okinawa, age 57 in 1971
Mr. Miller, American, working for Counter-Intelligence Corps, age 47 in 1971
Robert Harris, American soldier, age 23 in 1971
Okinawan police officer
Washington, D.C., 1995. Tidy living room of middle-class home. One window looks out on the street. A framed image of an Okinawan landscape hangs on the wall facing the audience.
[Preparing a beverage.] Otōsan! Your iced coffee is ready.
[Entering.] Ah, taking a shower is so refreshing. How do people survive the humidity here in Washington? Your mother would have really suffered.
Is her heart condition getting worse? [End Page 213]
She’s fine as long as she stays indoors and takes it easy.
It’s really too bad. Ben and I so hoped she would join you—she’s never met Ben or seen America. I guess it may not ever happen now. [Beat.] Otōsan, isn’t D.C. huge? What did you see today?
Of course … I was especially impressed by the statue of Lincoln.
I can see why. He’s called The Great Emancipator.
Yes, in 1945—when the war with Japan ended—Okinawans welcomed the American military. We thought of them as emancipators. And then, some people think that the 1972 movement to return Okinawa to Japan was a different kind of emancipation … That was the year after you came here for college, wasn’t it? Twenty-four years ago this month. I still remember how surprised your mother and I were when you left home. But you made a good decision.
I think I surprised myself, too—especially after what happened … I was lucky I found Ben when I came here—he changed my feelings about American men. He’s been wonderful to me.
Still, the shock your mother and I felt when you told us he was Mr. Miller’s son … you really can’t imagine.
After I read your letter, I wandered around in a daze. Finally, I just decided it was fate, our meeting. [Beat.] Maybe it was selfish of me to ignore your objections …
Before meeting Ben’s father, we had a peaceful life, despite the American occupation. I’d almost forgotten the war and my time as a soldier in China—and then after what happened to you, and the incident with Mr. Miller …
It’s so ironic. Everything started because of a cocktail party that was supposed to create international friendships.
Did you ever tell Ben about it?
Never. I can imagine what he’d say—that he would have protected me, and that he became a lawyer just because such injustice happens. Lawyers can make a lot of money in D.C., but Ben works pro bono on cases that are about justice. His sense of justice is what attracted me to him.
He seems awfully busy, no? He’s hardly had time to see me. [End Page 214]
But tonight’s party is for you—he wants his friends to meet you.
Well, I appreciate the gesture. Are these friends from his law school days?