Jeanne Sakata’s one-man drama Hold These Truths tells the true story of Gordon Hirabayashi, the American son of Japanese immigrants who defied an unjust court order when America placed its own citizens in internment camps during World War II. Midway through Arena Stage’s 2017/18 season, Hold These Truths brings an untold story to the stage that represents the diversity of our country and examines what it means to be an American. Under the direction of Jessica Kubzansky, Hold These Truths runs February 23-April 8, 2018 in the Kogod Cradle, 1101 Sixth St., SW, Washington, DC.
As previously announced, Ryun Yu, who in 2007 “brilliantly portrayed” (Huffington Post) and originated the role of Gordon Hirabayashi in Hold These Truths, and has since traveled across the country with the show, will reprise his performance. In addition to playing Hirabayashi, Yu portrays an additional 36 supplemental characters throughout the production. Kubzansky directed the world premiere in 2007, and many subsequent productions starring Yu.
“One of the biggest mistakes we make as Americans is to forget to learn from the past,” shares Molly Smith. “The atrocities committed against our own people in Japanese Internment Camps during World War II are experienced first-hand in Jeanne Sakata’s stirring Hold These Truths. It’s an important time to tell this story-Americans are not immune to fear and allowing fear to take over reason. This is a powerful performance with Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi under the deft direction of Jessica Kubzansky, and the Kogod Cradle is the perfect intimate setting to chronicle this event in our history.”
“It’s fascinating how plays change with time and speak to us in wholly different ways as the world changes around us,” says Kubzansky. “When we did the world premiere in 2007, Hold These Truths was a piece of sadly neglected history about a little-known and largely unsung Japanese-American hero. Now, it feels like a screaming cautionary tale we all need to witness, as our country could be on the precipice of repeating a variation on this shameful episode in our nation’s past. Today, the text that keeps resonating loudly in my head is something Gordon says late in the play, ‘I’ll say it again, ancestry is not a crime.'”
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Jeanne Sakata (Playwright) is honored to bring Hold These Truths to Arena Stage. After premiering at East West Players in 2007, the play had its Off-Broadway debut with Epic Theatre Ensemble in 2012 (Drama Desk nomination) and has since earned rave reviews at The Guthrie, Portland Center Stage, ACT, Perseverance Theatre, PlayMakers Repertory and Honolulu Theatre for Youth. As an actor, Jeanne has performed with The Public, the Kennedy Center, Mark Taper Forum, La Jolla Playhouse, South Coast Repertory, American Conservatory Theater, Berkeley Repertory, People’s Light, Northlight Theatre and the Intiman Theatre, among others. Recent film/TV credits include Advantageous, “Dr. Ken,” “Big Hero 6” and “True Fiction”. She received a Los Angeles Ovation Award for Outstanding Lead Actress and a lee Melville Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Los Angeles Theatre Community. www.jeannesakata.com
Jessica Kubzansky (Director) is the Co-Artistic Director of The Theatre @ Boston Court Performing Arts Center in Pasadena and an award-winning director. She developed and directed the world premiere of Hold These Truths at East West Players and has directed many subsequent productions. Recent credits include Orange (South Coast Repertory); Stupid Fucking Bird (A Contemporary Theatre); Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles (The Getty Villa); Colony Collapse, The Children and RII, her own three-person Richard II (Boston Court Performing Arts Center); Pygmalion (Pasadena Playhouse); Sheila Callaghan’s Everything You Touch (Rattlestick at The Cherry Lane); Hamlet with Leo Marks and The Winter’s Tale (Theater 150); Two Gentlemen of Verona (Illinois Shakespeare Festival); Macbeth (Antaeus Company); and Glass Menagerie, Toys in the Attic and Heartbreak House (The Colony Theatre). Jessica received the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatre.
Ryun Yu (Gordon Hirabayashi) makes his Arena Stage debut. He originated the role of Gordon Hirabayashi at East West Players in 2007, and has since performed it at ACT, Portland Center Stage and Pasadena Playhouse. Ryun collaborated with David Henry Hwang while starring in the play Yellow Face (the first adaptation of a major theatrical play for YouTube) and on the film adaptation of the play Bondage. Additional credits include Kimber Lee’s Tokyo Fish Story (South Coast Repertory); Richard Greenberg’s Take Me Out (Geffen Playhouse); the world premiere of Lloyd Suh’s American Hwangap (Magic Theatre); and Art and Julia Cho’s The Language Archive (East West Players). Ryun directed and will star in the upcoming feature film The Last Tour. TV appearances include “Fuller House,” “Castle” and the upcoming “Animal Kingdom”. He is the first theater major from MIT. Twitter/Instagram: @RealRyunYu.
The creative team for Hold These Truths includes Set and Lighting Designer Ben Zamora, Costume Designer Cierra Coan based on Original Costume Design by Soojin Lee, Sound Designer John Zalewski and Stage Manager Christi B. Spann.
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.