About the Production

Both Eyes Open is an experimental chamber opera currently in development by Brooklyn-based composer Max Giteck Duykers and Bay Area playwright Philip Kan Gotanda. This work explores the scarring that Japanese-Americans experienced during World War II and suggests paths toward healing. Combining contemporary music and singing, interactive audio and video, and narrative-based movement, Both Eyes Open revisits a pivotal moment in U.S. history and ethnic tensions that still resonate today.

Set in Stockton, California, the story focuses on a Japanese American landowner named Jinzo Matsumoto, who, with his wife Catherine, are interned in a camp in Rohwer, Arkansas in 1942. Before leaving their farm, they bury a “Daruma Doll” on their land. According to tradition, these papier-mâché idols are given to people when they embark on a challenging endeavor or make a serious promise. At that time, only one eye is painted on the doll’s face to symbolize the person’s initial commitment to the challenge. If success comes, then the doll receives its second eye and is burned ceremonially to release its spirit.