Thousand Cranes coming to Mountain Empire Community College

‘Thousand Cranes’ soars into MECC

“A Thousand Cranes,” the true story of a young girl who inspired the world with her bravery in the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima, will soar into Big Stone Gap, Va., on Feb. 27 for a single performance at Mountain Empire Community College’s Goodloe Center.

Curtains up is 12:15 p.m. Admission to the performance, presented by the Pro-Art Association, is free.

Sadako Saski was 2 years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on the small Japanese city of Hiroshima, where she lived. In The Barter Players’ presentation of Kathryn Schultz Miller’s “A Thousand Cranes,” Sadako is now 12, and an excellent athlete who races daily with her friend Kenji to prepare for an important competition.

However, one day while running, Sadako gets dizzy and falls. She is hospitalized, and it is discovered that she has “radiation sickness,” or leukemia — an effect of the bombing that happened a decade before and during which her grandmother was killed.

“I’ve figured out a way for you to get well,” Kenji says when he arrives at the hospital to visit Sadako. If a sick person folds a thousand origami cranes, the gods will grant her wish and make her healthy again, he tells her.

As Sadako happily begins folding hundreds of colorful paper cranes, she is called upon by the spirit of her grandmother.

“I have come to show you something,” her grandmother says. As if in a dream, Sadako folds a giant crane that comes to life and flies them both to the mountain of her ancestors. There, Sadako is honored to meet all the spirits of her heritage. Soon Sadako realizes she must stay with these comforting spirits.

“But I haven’t folded a thousand cranes yet,” she protests.

“It’s better to leave them to others to finish,” her grandmother assures her.

Sadako died on Oct. 25, 1955. Her friends and classmates folded 356 cranes to fulfill Sadako’s goal of making a thousand of the graceful, paper creatures. Sadako’s friends then began dreaming about building a monument to her and all the other children who were killed by the atom bomb. In 1958, the statue was unveiled in Hiroshima Peace Park. Each year on Aug. 6, the anniversary of the bombing, thousands of people bring paper cranes to adorn the statue of Sadako, holding a golden crane in her outstretched arms. Her wish is engraved on the base of the statue: “This is our cry, this is our prayer, peace in the world.”

“A Thousand Cranes” pulls from traditional forms of Japanese drama to celebrate Sadako’s hope and the hope of all the children who have worked to honor her.

The Barter Players’ performance at Mountain Empire is funded in part by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information, visit the Pro-Art website at or call (276) 376-4520.

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