Reiko Ho – Embracing Universality Through Theater | Arts And Entertainment

In the realm of theater, where stories intertwine with culture and history, Reiko Ho emerges as a luminary, infusing her productions with a tapestry of experiences that resonate far beyond the stage. As an accomplished director and theater maker, she navigates the complexities of identity, resilience, and the power of storytelling with grace and purpose.

Dr. Irma McClaurin sets the stage for our conversation, underscoring the importance of inclusive storytelling and the need to amplify diverse voices. She invites us to explore how Reiko’s own history shapes her artistic endeavors and resonates with broader themes of resilience and perseverance.

Reiko’s journey is deeply rooted in the multicultural mosaic of Hawaii, where her Japanese heritage intertwines with the island’s rich history. Reflecting on her background, she shares, “A lot of us have complicated histories with America… I come from that very humble and hardworking stock.” Her words echo the struggles and triumphs of generations past, highlighting the resilience ingrained in her lineage.

Amidst the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Reiko’s creativity knows no bounds. Forced to adapt to a new reality, she transforms setbacks into opportunities, bringing her show, “The Carp Who Would Not Quit,” to audiences in Minneapolis. This enchanting production, inspired by Japanese and Okinawan folk tales, serves as a testament to the enduring power of storytelling to transcend barriers and unite communities. “Healing starts with delight and joy, especially with children,” Reiko affirms, emphasizing the transformative potential of theater to uplift and inspire.

Yet, Reiko’s journey is not without its challenges. As an Asian American, in a predominantly white-dominated field, she grapples with systemic barriers and entrenched biases. 

Reflecting on her experiences, she shares, “Even in Hawaii, it was a very white-dominated field.” Her words resonate with the struggles faced by marginalized communities, underscoring the importance of representation and inclusion in the arts.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Reiko confronts a new wave of adversity: the rise in anti-Asian hate and discrimination. 

Moved by the plight of her community, she embarks on a new project rooted in Chinese folklore and traditions. “It made me really sad when I heard about our grandparents being pushed into the subway and all the terrible slurs that were being flown around,” she laments. Through her artistry, Reiko seeks to honor her heritage and combat stereotypes, fostering greater understanding and empathy.

As we celebrate Black History Month, Reiko’s journey serves as a poignant reminder of the interconnectedness of our struggles and triumphs. Just as black history is intertwined with the fabric of American society, so too are the experiences of Asian Americans and other marginalized communities. Through her work, Reiko bridges these divides, weaving a narrative of resilience, solidarity, and hope.

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