Calligraphy – A Genki Woman Writes About Mothers and Aging

It is fitting that Velina Hasu Houston’s new play, Calligraphy, opened in November, which happens to be National Family Caregivers Month, as it portrays the story of two estranged sisters, one in the U.S. and one in Japan, and their respective caregiver daughters.  Both cousins are dealing with the issues of filial piety and the stresses that caregiving places on their own lives.

 A study by the National Alliance of Caregiving and AARP published in November 2009 indicated that 28.5% or approximately 65.7 million adults 18 and older are family caregivers.  Caregivers are predominantly female and the average age of a caregiver is 48 years old.  10% of family caregivers are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, as is one of the characters in Velina’s play.  17% of caregivers said that caregiving made their own health worse and one-third said that caregiving was highly stressful.

Velina is no stranger to the pressures of caregiving as she is a caregiver for her mother who is a resi dent at one of the Keiro facilities.  Along with caregiving, Velina juggles her role as wife, mother, Keiro volunteer, and teacher.  Velina is a professor of theater, director of dramatic writing, associate dean of faculty, and resident playwright at the School of Theater at the University of Southern California, as well as a Genki Woman.

“I was inspired to write the play because of changes that I began to observe in the lives of friends and colleagues, namely how the aging of their parents affected their own lives, how it provoked them into thinking about who they are and what they want to do with their lives,” shared Velina.

 Velina was recently interviewed on the Keiro campus by Denise Dador, ABC7 Eyewitness News Health Specialist, on the subject of women’s health and stress, as a prelude to The Institute for Healthy Aging at Keiro’s Women’s Wellness Conference.   See interview on Keiro’s website.

Velina Hasu Houston

“What interested me the most was how the lives of Asian women change as they confront their mothers’ aging,” said Houston. “The cultural issues inherent in Asian families seemed to complicate the choices more.”

The Los Angeles Times wrote that Calligraphy is a “deftly constructed study in ironically contrasting characters.”

Calligraphy is being presented at the  Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles. 8 p.m. Thursdays – Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Ends Dec. 12. (866) 811-4111 or

If you have been a caregiver, are a caregiver or will be a caregiver, Calligraphy will touch your heart.


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