A Box Without A Bottom


A Box Without A Bottom – Soko-nashi Bako

Written & Performed by David Hirata
Directed by Mark Kenward

October 26 – December 1 | Berkeley
Saturdays at 5pm | Sundays at 2pm


Show Description

In 1866, magician Namigoro Sumidagawa became the first Japanese citizen in over 200 years to receive a passport to leave the country. As part of the “Imperial Japanese Troupe,” he dazzled audiences across Victorian America wth his exotic stage magic and became a media celebrity. By the time he returned home, his prize trick, Soko-nashi Bako, had been appropriated by American magicians in yellowface and rechristened as the “J*p Box.” A century later, Japanese-American magician David Hirata excavates the mysteries and stories of the Soko-nashi Bako. Through monologue and magic, he unveils illusions and surprises from the Japanese American story.

Artist Bio

Hailed as “a master of deceit” (KRON 4 TV) David Hirata has amazed audiences throughout the Bay Area with theatrical magic creations at the Exploratorium, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Oakland Museum, and at many private events.  Previous shows include Kanji by Starlight at the Marsh, and American Wizards at the California Magic Dinner Theater.  A Box Without A Bottom premiered at the 2018 San Diego International Fringe Festival where it won the award for “Outstanding World Premiere Production.”

Audience Talkbacks

October 26 – Frederick Schodt, historian and translator, author of “Professor Risley and the Imperial Japanese Troupe”

November 9th – Jade, magician: on the performance of traditional Asian magic, and the experience of being a female professional magician

November 17th – Brenda Wong Aoki, storyteller and performer.

Statement from David Hirata regarding the name of the performance.

I have decided to change the name of my show from The J*p Box to A Box Without A Bottom: Soko-nashi Bako.

When I considered The J*p Box as a title, I felt that I had vetted its use properly. I had several conversations with family members, some of whom had lived through internment during WWII, as well as Japanese-American audience members at the show’s initial run at the San Diego International Fringe Festival in 2018. The reaction to the show was uniformly positive, and it seemed that the artistic considerations of the title justified its use.

Subsequent discussions with the Japanese-American community here in the Bay Area have led me to realize that I have underestimated the raw pain of the “J” word. The title itself provides insufficient context to justify its use. I deeply regret the pain caused by my mistake.

I’m grateful to all those who reached out to me to discuss this issue and have been happy to listen and learn.  As with all artistic decisions, the conversation about this change has been interesting (and remarkably civil), and I hope that this living dialogue can continue.

David Hirata

Show Info

Tickets: $20 – $35 sliding scale | $55 and $100 Reserved Seating
October 26 – December 1 | Berkeley TheaterStage
Saturdays at 5pm | Sundays at 2pm
60 minutes | No Intermission | Ages 13+ | Please do not bring infants to the show

For more information on the sliding scale ticketing policy, late seating and reserved seating please click here.

Buy Tix Online:
To purchase tickets online, please click on a date below
(please review price descriptions above):

  • November 16, 2019 5:00 PMA Box Without A Bottom (Berkeley)
  • November 17, 2019 2:00 PMA Box Without A Bottom w/ Talkback (Berkeley)
  • November 23, 2019 5:00 PMA Box Without A Bottom (Berkeley)
  • November 24, 2019 2:00 PMA Box Without A Bottom (Berkeley)
  • November 30, 2019 5:00 PMA Box Without A Bottom (Berkeley)
  • December 1, 2019 2:00 PMA Box Without A Bottom (Berkeley)
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Buy Tix by phone:
Monday – Friday 1 – 4pm, 415.282.3055
(Additional service fees apply)