Yamauchi was best known for 'And the Soul Shall Dance'

Japanese American playwright Wakako Yamauchi has died aged 93.

According to The New York Times, Japanese American playwright Wakako Yamauchi has died at the age of 93.

Yamauchi was best known for And the Soul Shall Dance. The playwright had adapted the work from her own short story. The play was performed by East West Players in 1977, when Asian American voices were rare in theatre.

As a first generation child of Japanese immigrant, her experience growing up in an in immigrant farming family often influenced her work.

And the Soul Shall Dance focuses on two Japanese immigrant farmer families in California during the Depression. One families tries to assimilate whilst the other clings on to their old culture.

Former artistic director of East West Players, Tim Dang, described Yamauchi as a “pioneer as an Asian-American woman writing about the Japanese-American experience to a broader audience who knew very little about the Japanese-American community in the U.S.”

“Her stories brought humanity and a face to a community that was labeled ‘the other’ after World War II and the internment camps,” he added. “Her leading characters were women and gave many opportunities to Asian-American actresses playing strong roles that were nonstereotypical.”

“Her legacy lives on, as her stories are frequently produced at Asian-American theaters around the country.”

Yamauch also wrote The Momento, which was staged in 1987 by Yale Repertory Theater. She went on to publish ‘Songs My Mother Taught Me: Stories, Plays and Memoir’ in 1994.

The playwright is survived by her granddaughter Alyctra Matsushita, sister Yukiko Sugiyama, and a grandson.