My name is June Fukumura. I’m a multi-disciplinary theatre maker, performer, and clown working on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.
I’m one of the Co-Founders of New(to)Town Collective and we are developing a new clown performance, My Name is SUMIKO premiering at the Vancouver Fringe Festival. Be a part of this campaign and you can make Sumiko’s Fringe Festival dream come true!
Who is SUMIKO? Sumiko is an unabashed, hyper-kawaii, J-Pop wannabe bouffon character. Sumiko is an assemblage of all of the “taboo” parts of my identity as a second generation Nikkei (Japanese-Canadian) woman. She is extremely kawaii (cute/innocent), unabashedly sexual, commands attention, speaks with a thick Japanese accent, and she is overly proud of being Japanese. She is a larger-than-life manga character. Sumiko has been described by an audience member as ‘a cute, fuzzy plush toy with razor sharp claws. She lives in the tension between the innocent and experienced; ingénue and trickster; kawaii and grotesque; light and dark; sacred and profane. She is a character which defies all expectation of the stereotypical Japanese icon’.
What’s the show about?
My Name is SUMIKO a new clown performance that interweaves clown turns, J-Pop tunes, and Japanese variety show games into an unstoppably zany, East-meets-West comic experience. Sumiko invites the audience into her dark, twisted, and magical world where she meets Death, falls in Love, and battles her inner demons. My Name is SUMIKO is a delightful exorcism of our deepest fears, shame, and taboos.
From creator and performer June:
As a Nikkei born to immigrant parents, I’ve continuously lived in the tension between being Canadian and Japanese. I grew up speaking Japanese at home, watched Japanese television, I went to Japanese language school, and travelled to Japan every summer. Although I loved my culture I simultaneously resisted it. For example, when I was in elementary school I hid the fact that I spoke Japanese and tried desperately to not have an accent like my parents; I never wore pink so as to not be seen as kawaii; I begged my parents to pack me a ‘normal’ lunch so other kids would not ask what ‘rice balls’ were. My survival strategy was to whitewash my identity and suppress my Japanese side into the shadow so I could assimilate into white North American culture. Sumiko was born out of my shadow side – a side I have been too ashamed, too afraid, and too intimidating to expose… until now.
This work is a departure for me as I endeavour to create my first full length solo work which investigates my own identity. This process is helping me release the shame, guilt, and embarrassment I’ve held onto for so long. I am ready to use the negative feelings I’ve had about myself as fuel to create a new artistic work for my community. It feels incredibly empowering to take my ‘shadow side’ and literally put a spot light on it. I think each of us has a shadow side that is hard to love ... and with this show I want to create a space where we can each find the lightness and humour inside of our darkness.
I believe we are in a particular moment in time where young POC artists are finally being given the opportunity to expand the depth and breadth of their artistic work; and it's our moment to shine. My work attempts to open up new form of comedic expression; one which debunks the model minority myth, decentralizes Euro-Centric comedy, and empowers Nikkei artists to feel proud of their heritage. I am thrilled to be making this work to empower myself and other young Nikkei artist to use their voice and share their stories.
Here’s where the money is going:
Rehearsal venue - $500
Fringe fee - $500
Materials - $200
Marketing, Promotion, and Printing - $500
Artist Fees for the collaborators - $1800
PERKS PERKS PERKS!
$5 or more will get a hi-five and a social media shout out
$10 or more will receive a hand written thank you card snail mailed to you
$30 or more will receive a thank you letter and a video from Sumiko
$50 or more will receive a thank you letter, a video from Sumiko, and your name will be listed in the program as a special funder
$100 or more will receive a thank you letter, a shout out from the stage from Sumiko during the show, and your name will be listed in the program as a super special funder
OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP
If you are able to donate today, I would like to thank you so much for getting me one step closer. But even if you aren’t able to donate money, that’s okay! By reading this and sharing this page you are also helping me in a big way. The more people know the more people can help. So please share this link on your Facebook, Instagram, or other social media sites, and visit my website and follow me along on this incredible journey!