Lionelle Hamanaka

Librettist Lyricist Playwright

I believe in the theatre as a lab (experimental/using powers of imagination) and map for mankind to find a way to a better world. It's like holding hands and making a big leap of faith. I try to combine writing styles to fit the play in question. There are fundamental commitments you have to make to create a real character, a deep question you are asking both yourself and the audience to answer. This symbiotic relationship is organic. I do believe in both the Identity and Alienation aspects of the theatre, i.e., epic and traditional, also multimedia, as well as multiethnic, multiracial and relevancy to today's predicaments, and to empowering those without a voice or who are seeking a voice, recognition.


I'm Japanese American, born in New York City, raised in the lower east side and Harlem. My father Conrad Yama was a working actor who was liked by Joe Papp, who played Mao in Box Mao Box in Buffalo and Milano by Edward Albee, played Mao again in The Chairman with Gregory Peck; who did parts in about 5 Broadway plays, and lots of commercials. He used to practice reciting poetry every day on the couch, Shakespeare, Lorca, T.S. Eliot, Neruda. He took us to his shows and I got to love theatre.  I was an activist in the anti war movement for ten years and still go to meetings, because without peace, there can be no future for mankind, and no civilization. I studied at CCNY and in playwriting, Howard Pflanzer, Dr. Kathleen Potts, and at the Dramatists Guild Institute with Gary Garrison, and Stefanie Zadravec. I wrote a couple of plays, one was produced by Pan Asian Repertory.  I was a jazz singer for many years and decided to go back to my first love, playwriting. I wrote a play, Iraq Ten, collaborating with a number of veterans of that war, transcribing their stories, that became a radio play heard in five states. I wrote the book for a piece that was done at Lincoln Center out of doors by Safari Productions, Blues Around the World. I love being part of the Dramatists Guild, and the people that I met there. I enjoyed the forums and seminars the Guild provides. I try to write every day and read a lot of plays and use Lincoln Center archives to see plays on tape, as well as going to plays in New York City. I love actors because my dad was an actor and I took some classes in acting at HB and a few private classes with Susan Mertz when she was in New York City. I really liked Ernie Martin's Actor's Creative Theatre, but he moved to California.