[quote]The following is Annie Lareau’s director’s note for Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet[/quote]

It is a rare hot August day in Seattle. Despite the sweltering heat of a fourth-floor rehearsal room with little ventilation, 30 actors and crew sit in a large circle as each of us share our personal family stories of immigration into this country.

Sydney Andrews, Stan Asis, and Moses Yim rehearse the Panama Hotel tea room scene.

There are stories of French-Canadians being persecuted by the KKK in Maine, Korean children translating for their parents, Japanese who watched the planes fly over their farm in Hawaii the day of Pearl Harbor, and Chinese ancestors so deeply rooted in Seattle history that they are part of the original and continuing fabric of the International District. And those are just the first few stories to flow forth.

Director Annie Lareau looks over a moment in the script with Stan Asis; photos by Shannon Erickson.

I am inspired by the complexity and yet the similarity of all of the stories that have brought us to this place and made us all so passionate about this book and this play. These actors are passionate. Some of them have spent months deep in research, combing the archives of the Wing Luke Museum, attending art exhibits displaying art from Camp Minidoka, trying to find the deep truths of each of their characters.

This play may be a work of fiction but the history is so much a part of us who live in this city that we are committed to discovering the truth between the lines. It is so paramount, in fact, to all of us that in a moment of silence toward the end of our discussion, one actor leaned in to to everyone and said, “To honor the history of the people we play, whether we are in actuality of the same ethnicity or not, we must get it right. We must get it right.”

So we have tried, with all of our passion, heart and hard work to do just that. I invite you to take this leap of faith with these incredible actors and enjoy the ride.

-Annie Lareau