Wakako Yamauchi, the pioneering Japanese-American playwright, short-story writer and poet whose 1977 play “And the Soul Shall Dance” shed light on the harsh realities of the early 20th-century immigrant experience, has died. She was 93.

Yamauchi died at home in Gardena, California, granddaughter Alyctra Matsushita said.

“And the Soul Shall Dance,” Yamauchi’s first play, was commissioned by the L.A.-based Asian-American theater company East West Players and adapted from Yamauchi’s short story of the same name. It won the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for new play and was filmed for PBS that year.

Tim Dang, former artistic director of East West Players, cited Yamauchi as one of four Asian-American playwrights – with Edward Sakamoto, Jon Shirota and Frank Chin – who could be considered pioneers for future generations.

She was the only woman of the group, and her plays featured another theatrical rarity: strong female protagonists.

Her work cast an unflinching look at cultural identity, and she was the first playwright to truly mine the Issei (first generation) and Nisei (second generation) Japanese-American experience, Dang said.

Of nearly five dozen Asian- American theater companies in the country, Dang added, most have used “And the Soul Shall Dance” in their inaugural season.

Yamauchi was born Wakako Nakamura in Westmorland, California, in 1924, the daughter of first-generation Japanese immigrants.

Her parents worked in punishing conditions as itinerant farmers in the Imperial Valley.

During World War II, when Yamauchi was 17, her family was sent to an internment camp in Poston, Arizona, for a year and a half.

She wrote for the camp newspaper alongside the now renowned (but then unknown) writer Hisaye Yamamoto. The two women maintained a lifelong friendship.

Yamauchi married and later divorced Chester Yamauchi, with whom she had one daughter, Joy.