News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


Subject :

Palo Alto Children’s Theatre Announces THE BIG READ – 2015
An Initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts
Contact : Lane Pianta, Production Manager, Palo Alto Children's Theatre    650-463-4937

Palo Alto, CA – The Palo Alto Children’s Theatre is honored to participate in the 2014–2015 cycle of Big Read, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts, managed by Arts Midwest. The Children’s Theatre has participated in the program as a grantee in three previous years, and is one of 77 organizations to receive a grant to host activities in the 2014-2015 year of Big Read programming. 

The Big Read is a program designed to revitalize the role of reading in American culture by exposing citizens to great works of literature and encouraging them to read for pleasure and enrichment. The Children’s Theatre has developed unique programming to provide our community with the opportunity to read, discuss, and celebrate local author Julie Otsuka’s novel “When The Emperor Was Divine.”

“The Children’s Theatre is very excited to participate in this program that furthers our commitment to encourage and foster a love of reading in community members of all ages, while supporting discussions around important events in our history,” said Managing Artistic Director, Judge Luckey

Otsuka’s debut novel, “When The Emperor Was Divine” tells the story of a Japanese-American family sent to an internment camp in the Utah desert during World War II. The novel, loosely based on the wartime experiences of Otsuka's mother's family, is written through the perspective of four family members, detailing their eviction from California and their time in camp.

The Children’s Theatre, in collaboration with the Teen Arts Council and a volunteer Programming Advisory Committee of community members, including Jean Gize, Richard Yamaguchi, Yoriko Kishimoto, Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu, Ph.D., Leon Kimura and Deborah Anthonyson, will present a series of 10 community events involving Peninsula middle and high school students, in order to foster discussions between different generations around the themes of the book. Students at partner schools will read and study “When The Emperor Was Divine,” and working with teaching artists from the Palo Alto Children’s Theatre, will prepare creative responses to the novel’s content and themes. Student presentations will be shared at public book events, with audiences of their family, peers and community members. The 2015 Big Read programming will kick-off on March 11, 2015 at the Mitchell Park Community Center with a screening of the film Children of the Camps, a documentary which captures the experiences of six Americans of Japanese ancestry who were children when they were confined to internment camps during World War II. 

For more information about The Big Read and upcoming events, visit To participate in the program as a school or community member, please contact Children’s Theatre Production Manager Lane Pianta at (650) 463-4939 or

This program is presented with generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts and Arts Midwest. The Teen Arts Council is an initiative of the Palo Alto Children’s Theatre. For more information about the Palo Alto Children’s Theatre, visit