Velina Hasu Houston

Plays written by Velina Hasu Houston:



Calligraphy – (1M 4W) A comedy about life’s tough questions. Take one part stable cousin in Los Angeles, one part sexy blonde-wig-sporting cousin in Tokyo, and two parts aging mothers. Add ice, tension, shake it up, and serve.

Kokoro (True Heart) – (1M 5W) Struggling to adapt to life in America and then discovering her husband’s flagrant unfaithfulness, a young Japanese mother believes that her only honorable escape is through oyako shinju, or parent-child suicide. But when she survives the botched attempt, the woman finds herself on trial for the murder of her daughter

Turbulence – (1M 4W or 5W) A play about origins, paths, and staking claims, Turbulence is a humorous and touching new work that’s not afraid to go to uncomfortable places. At its center are four women from diverse racial and economic backgrounds who find themselves caught up in business of prejudice. They must each cross a personal divide to embrace their roles as mothers, daughters, friends, and partners.


Velina Hasu Houston’s international literary career, which includes 17 commissions, began Off-Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club and the Negro Ensemble Company. A playwright, she also is a librettist (opera/musical theatre), poet, essayist, novelist, and screenwriter. She is a 2013 L.A. Ovation Awards nominee for best book for the musical Tea, With Music (composer Nathan Wang). A 2013-2014 recipient of an Aurora Foundation grant, Houston has been awarded fellowships from Japan Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation (twice), and others; and been honored by the Kennedy Center, Sidney Poitier, Fulbright Program, American Film Institute, Pinter Review Prize for Drama, and others. Memberships: Dramatists’ Guild, Writers Guild of America-West, League of Professional Theatre Women. Current projects: two Los Angeles Opera commissions, Cinnamon Girl (musical with Wang, premiering 2014, Playwrights’ Arena, directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera); The American Women, an adaptation of The Trojan Women set in the pre-Emancipation Proclamation American South; The Intuition of Iphigenia (opera); and as Writer/Associate Producer, the films Path of Dreams and Rising Soul. At the USC School of Dramatic Arts she created/directs the Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing; and is Professor of Theatre, Resident Playwright, and Associate Dean of Faculty Recognition & Development.She served on the US Department of State’s Japan-US Friendship Commission, and US-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange for six years; and has been on faculty at Kyoto’s Doshisha University. Archives: Library of Congress; Huntington Library.