'More important than Star Trek': George Takei's musical about his time in a US concentration camp

  • George Takei opens up to Rags Martel about the inspiration behind his new West End play

Veteran Star Trek actor George Takei has made his West End stage debut at the age of 85 and says the deeply personal play is "more important" to him than the famous sci-fi franchise.

Speaking to ITV London ahead of the UK premiere of his hit Broadway musical George Takei’s Allegiance, the actor said the musical is inspired by his own experience in a US concentration camp during World War II and tells of a "shameful chapter" in American history.

"My mother was born in Sacramento, my father was a San Franciscan," he said. "My brother, sister and I were born in Los Angeles. We're Americans. But because it was Japan that bombed Pearl Harbour and solely because we looked like the people that bombed Pearl Harbour, we were incarcerated in barbed wire prison camps.

George Takei's family were imprisoned in a US concentration camp after the bombing of Pearl Harbour Credit: George Takei/ITV News

"With no charges, no trial, no due process, 120,000 Japanese-Americans on the West Coast were summarily rounded up and imprisoned in 10 barbed wire prison camps in some of the most hellish, desolate places in the country."

He was five when he was taken to prison and spent his childhood behind bars in two different internment camps.

Asked why not many people know about his experiences, the actor explains: "It's a shameful chapter of American history. And it was not taught in our schools."

He explained that for him, this play is "absolutely more important" than Star Trek because it's "the story of democracy - both its shining qualities and its fallibility".

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