Naomi Iizuka finished writing 36 Views in the fall of 1999. It was published in book form in 2003 by The Overlook Press in Woodstock, NY. The complete text of the play was also published in the February 2002 issue of American Theatre. Originally, the play was commissioned and developed by A.S.K. Theater Projects in 1998. Upon completion, it was read as part of the A.S.K. Reading Series in the fall of 1999. Later, in June of 2000, the A.S.K. Common Ground Festival presented 36 Views as a workshop. The play gained recognition from this workshop and was subsequently developed at both The Sundance Theatre Laboratory in July 2000 and Breadloaf Writer’s Conference in August 2000. Following this development, 36 Views had its world premiere at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in September 2001, under the direction of Mark Wing- Davey. The play had its New York premiere in March 2002 at the Joseph Papp Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival.
Iizuka is known for her artistic blending of the ancient and the contemporary. In her plays, she has mixed Ovid’s Metamorphoses with the darkly intriguing and deeply upsetting subculture of homeless youth. She has transported Virgil’s tragic characters Dido and Aeneas to the tough, uncompromising realism of modern Los Angeles. In 36 Views, she has successfully and creatively melded elements of traditional Kabuki theater with a modern vision of Western forms.
The play raises questions about authenticity. The play, which garners its name from a series of woodblock prints called 36 Views of Mount Fuji by nineteenth-century artist Hokusai, constantly presents the question of what is true and what is real. The characters struggle with the authenticity of precious, ancient art objects and artifacts. They question the truthfulness of their relationships with one another. Last, and most important, the characters question the authenticity of their own decisions, their lives, and themselves.