The Reach museum’s board asked CEO Lisa Toomey a few months back to start thinking of a way to acknowledge the 70th anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing.
Not long after, Toomey got a call from Sherel Webb with the Franklin County Historical Society & Museum. “She said, ‘I’ve got a play for you to read,’ ” Toomey recalled.
It was White Bluffs, by the late Tri-City playwright and theater advocate Bonnie Rutherford.
Toomey gave it a look, and “I knew it was what we were going to do,” she said.
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The special performance is Aug. 9 on the Richland museum’s outdoor stage.
White Bluffs isn’t about the bombing itself, but about life in a Hanford trailer camp during World War II — and love, bigotry, secrecy and the American Dream, as well as the monumental undertaking that was the Manhattan Project.
Its five characters include newlyweds Danny and Kim.
Danny is working construction but has his eye on an engineering gig — a bump up that would mean more money toward his dream of buying a farm.
However, that would be threatened if word of his wife’s heritage spread. Kim has a Japanese grandparent.
In that era, thousands of Japanese Americans on the West Coast were sent to internment camps.
Danny “has to decide whether to stay with his wife and lose his chance at a (higher) clearance, or turn her in to an internment camp,” Rutherford told the Herald back in 2000. “They haven’t been married very long, and it was an impulse marriage as well, so they have some tough times learning about each other and what’s important to them.”
Jo Brodzinski produces and directs the one-act play, which will include some added historical context.
It’s narrated by Sarah Shaff and stars Paul Davis, Dianne Hudson, Elizabeth Andersen, Mike Speegle and Ryan Clements.
Brodzinski said there are “times in the show that I absolutely get chills,” adding that, “It is a part of history that I think is important.”
Toomey said she expects the play to spark discussion.
“I think it will be a wonderful way to bring history alive for our community,” she said. “It’s one more way that we can tell these stories that really have driven the way this community has evolved.”
The Nagasaki anniversary is Aug. 9. On that day 70 years ago, the Fat Man, with plutonium made at Hanford, dropped on the Japanese city, helping end the war.
The point in acknowledging the anniversary “is not to make any judgments or get into a debate about anything,” Toomey said. “It’s just to honor, commemorate that moment, which was very significant not only for this community, but for our country, for Japan.”
Show time is 2 p.m. The Reach will have World War II-era snacks for sale, from Hershey’s bars to bottled Coca-Cola.
A Hanford trailer also will be on display.
Cost is $10 for adults and free for kids 7 and younger. Museum admission is included.
Tickets are available at the door.
The Reach is at 1943 Columbia Park Trail.