Chiori Miyagawa’s I Have Been to Hiroshima Mon Amour


Alain Resnais’s 1959 film Hiroshima mon amour concerns an affair between a French actress, in Hiroshima to play a nurse in “an international film about peace,” and a Japanese man who survived World War II in a P.O.W. camp while his home was blown to bits. Tragic and powerful, the French New Wave classic is also troublesome for its appropriation of that 1945 nuclear detonation—at least according to playwright Chiori Miyagawa. In her I Have Been to Hiroshima Mon Amour, she stages a contemporary dialogue about history and personal memory around re-enacted film scenes in which Resnais’s two lovers engage in bedside physical and psychological therapy—while the ghost of a lost betrothed delivers gory details about melting skin. In the present-day sections, the malleable actors (Joel de la Fuente, Sue Jean Kim, and Juliana Francis-Kelly) play pals gathered for movie night, where Hiroshima’s consequences are confined to a Netflix envelope; though they bicker, they never come to a consensus about who has the right to feel angry or moved by the horrors of the past. Shifting screens surrounding the stage invoke the motion-picture theatricality of history, but director Jean Wagner’s use of explosive graphics is the only cheap shot in this play. Stark descriptions of the bomb’s aftermath are graphic enough.