Leslie Ishii Named Perseverance Theatre Artistic Director

Leslie Ishii

Congratulations to Leslie Ishii, who has been hired as Artistic Director of Perseverance Theatre. Ishii has been serving as Interim Artistic Director since July.

“Leslie Ishii has been outstanding to work with these past months,” said Perseverance Theatre Board President Joe Bedard. “Her vision as a creative leader and her passion for equity and justice will be an amazing voice in Alaska theatre and community.”

Ishii has an extensive artistic record, including stage director and actor with appearances on Broadway (Shogun), regional theatre (Manahatta, Hold These Truths) film (Fame, Species) and television (“Jane the Virgin,” “Lost,” “Days of Our Lives,” “Beverly Hills 90210”). As a member of the Actor’s Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, Ishii has established herself across the nation as an artistic leader, including a 10-year relationship with Perseverance Theatre.

“I’m excited to continue working with the amazing team at Perseverance Theatre,” said Ishii. “We’ll be focused on listening and learning from the Alaska community, and striving toward art that is exceptional, equitable, and thoughtful.”

Her years of organizational experience include serving as co-chair, organizer, and board member for the Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists’ fifth and sixth national ConFest; founder and co-director for the National Cultural Navigation Theatre Project for the sustainability of theatres and artists of color; co-facilitator of the launch of the Theatre Communication Group’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Institute; and core faculty for artEquity.

Ishii will join Managing Director Frank Delaney to lead the direction of the theatre as it enters its 41st season. She is currently directing the theatre’s production of Devilfish by Vera Starbard, which opened in Anchorage Oct. 25 and runs through Nov. 3. More information about the theatre and the production can be found at www.ptalaska.org.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang

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 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.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2019 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

Ryun Yu Stars in San Diego REP’s Production of Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS, November 14 – December 8

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage

San Diego Repertory Theatre (San Diego REP) is presenting Jeanne Sakata’s solo show, Hold These Truths, the inspiring true story of Gordon Hirabayashi. Helmed by Jessica Kubzansky, the production will run November 14 – December 8, 2019, in San Diego REP’s Lyceum Space Theatre, with previews November 14 – 19, and press opening on Wednesday, November 20 at 7:00 p.m.

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage
Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage

Shocked by the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, and driven by fear and prejudice, America shipped its own citizens of Japanese ancestry off to internment camps for forced detention. Hold These Truths tells the inspiring true story of American hero Gordon Hirabayashi, a young man who defied President Roosevelt’s order to report to a WWII internment camp. Join Gordon on a 50-year quest to avenge an injustice to his community, restore his faith in the U.S. Constitution and reconcile America’s greatness with its shortcomings. Hold These Truths has played to sold-out audiences all over the country and features a tour-de-force performance by stage and screen actor Ryun Yu, who plays Gordon and 37 other characters.

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage
Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage

“The Presidential order to put American citizens in forced detention in 1942 is a profound scar upon our country’s history,” says San Diego REP Artistic Director Sam Woodhouse. “The passion for and commitment to justice that Gordon Hirabayashi brought to his quest to right this wrong makes him an American to be honored and treasured. His story is an extraordinary one.”

Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage
Ryun Yu as Gordon Hirabayashi in “Hold These Truths”. Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/Courtesy Portland Center Stage

Hold These Truths is playwright Jeanne Sakata’s lone foray off stage and screen, having made a highly successful career as an actor. Her inspiring solo play has been widely produced across the nation, including sold-out performances with the Guthrie Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse, Portland Center Stage and more. In addition to critical and audience acclaim, Hold These Truths is also on display at the Library of Congress Playwrights Archive in the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection in Washington D.C., where the Jeanne Sakata Collection was established in July 2011.

Starring as Gordon Hirabayashi (and 37 other characters) is renowned actor of stage and screen Ryun Yu. Yu was the first Korean-American to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and holds the first theatre degree ever awarded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Yu has worked closely with award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang, having appeared in film adaptations of Hwang’s plays Bondage and Yellow Face. Other film credits include The Last Tour (which he also directed), Only the Brave, The Brothers Solomon and The Mikado Project. On stage, he played George in the Los Angeles premiere of Julia Cho’s The Language Archive and David in the world premiere of Lloyd Suh’s American Hwangap at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco. He also performed in the west coast premiere of Richard Greenberg’s Tony Award-winning Take Me Out at The Geffen Playhouse.

San Diego REP’s production of Hold These Truths is supported in part by a grant as part of the California Civil Liberties Public Education program at theCalifornia State Library. The grant, one of 30 awarded in 2019, will provide free tickets to students through San Diego REP’s Project Discovery program, facilitate 11 audience and community engagement events and support the creation of a comprehensive guide for audiences to explore the historical context and themes of the play. Created in 1998, the California Civil Liberty program’s purpose is to “sponsor public educational activities and development of educational materials to ensure that the events surrounding the exclusion, forced removal and internment of civilians and permanent resident aliens of Japanese ancestry will be remembered so that the causes and circumstance of this and similar events may be illuminated and understood.”

Jeanne Sakata, Jessica Kubzansky and Ryun Yu after the opening night performance of HOLD THESE TRUTHS at Arena Stage.
Jeanne Sakata, Jessica Kubzansky and Ryun Yu after the opening night performance of HOLD THESE TRUTHS at Arena Stage.

The creative team features the award-winning Ben Zamora (Scenic & Lighting Design), John Zalewski (Sound Design), Alyssa Escalante (Stage Manager), Chelsea Smith (Production Manager) and Kim Heil (Casting Director).

Jeanne Sakata. Photo by Lia Chang
Jeanne Sakata. Photo by Lia Chang

Actress and playwright Jeanne Sakata, whose talents span across TV, film, voiceover and stage, recently received the East West Players Trailblazer Award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement and Raising the Visibility of the API Community. This summer, Ms. Sakata appeared in the Off Broadway premiere of the brilliant new comedy Do You Feel Anger? at the Vineyard Theatre in New York. She is familiar to TV audiences in the recurring roles of genius scientist Lenore Shimamoto/Mayor Saito on the animated TV series “Big Hero 6,” based on the Disney smash hit movie, and can currently be seen in three national commercials. Jeanne’s nationally acclaimed solo play Hold These Truths (2013 Drama Desk Nomination, Outstanding Solo Performance; 2019 Theatre Bay Awards, Outstanding Production, Principal Performance and Direction) has had over twenty productions across the country, and will be produced in the 2019-20 season at Barrington Stage, San Diego Rep, and People’s Light, after sold-out and extended runs last year at Arena Stage and TheatreWorks Silicon Valley. Since April 2019, Hold These Truths became available internationally as a special audio recording, produced by L.A. Theatre Works. The play has also been produced in recent years at The Cultch, Pasadena Playhouse, ACT Seattle, Portland Center Stage, Guthrie Theater, PlayMakers’ Rep, Perseverance Theatre, Honolulu Theatre for Youth (Daniel Dae Kim, co-producer), Terra Nova Collective, Silk Road Rising, Coachella Valley Rep, Plays and Players, and New Century Theatre. Premiering with the East West Players in Los Angeles, and then Off Broadway with the Epic Theatre Ensemble, the play was workshopped by the Lark Play Development Center and the New York Theatre Workshop. Hold These Truths is now published by Ageloff Books and available on Amazon, and it is on display at the Library of Congress Playwrights Archive in the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection in Washington DC, where the Jeanne Sakata Collection was established in July 2011. Special honors: LA Ovation Award for Outstanding Lead Actress, Chay Yew’s Red, East West Players; Lee Melville Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Los Angeles Theatre Community, Playwrights’ Arena; Outstanding Artist Award, Los Angeles’ Pacific American Friends of Theatre. For more information on Hold These Truths, click on www.holdthesetruths.info.

Tickets to Hold These Truths are on sale now. Tickets range from $25.00 to $72.00 and are available for purchase in-person at the San Diego REP Box Office, by calling 619-544-1000 or online at sdrep.org. Prices subject to change.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang

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 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.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2019 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

Encore Date Added For Jennifer Barnhart’s Solo Cabaret At The Laurie Beechman Theatre In It’s About Time! on November 24 

Jennifer Barnhart, Jim Donica. Photo by Lia Chang
Jennifer Barnhart, Jim Donica. Photo by Lia Chang
Jennifer Barnhart, Jim Donica. Photo by Lia Chang

After years of playing well with others – whether singing backup for friends’ shows, or crooning alongside a cast of puppet characters – Jennifer Barnhart finally steps into the spotlight in her first solo cabaret, fittingly titled, “It’s About Time!” Alan Muraoka directs an evening of stories, silliness and song as Jennifer shares the journey that led her to two of the most famous streets in the world: Broadway and Sesame Street.

Jennifer Barnhart and Mrs. T. Roz. Photo by Lia Chang
Jennifer Barnhart and Mrs. T. Roz. Photo by Lia Chang

This encore performance will be at 7:00 pm on Sunday, November 24th at the Laurie Beechman Theatre, downstairs at the Westbank Cafe on 42nd Street. Jennifer will be accompanied by music director Gary Adler, bassist Mary Ann McSweeney, and percussionist Michael Croiter. There will be special appearances by some other Avenue Q residents as well. Click here for tickets.

Jennifer Barnhart. Photo by Lia Chang
Jennifer Barnhart. Photo by Lia Chang

Jennifer Barnhart (Performer) was an Original Broadway Company member (Outer Critics Circle Award) of the smash Tony Award-winning hit Avenue Q, and she remained with the show in the role she created for its entire six-year run on Broadway. As a puppeteer, Jennifer has performed on numerous children’s television shows, including the upcoming series “Helpsters for Apple+ TV,” as well as “Between the Lions,” “Bear in the Big Blue House,” “Johnny & the Sprites,” “Julie’s Greenroom” (with Julie Andrews, for Netflix), and “Sesame Street,” where she plays Zoe. Some favorite ‘human’ roles include: Lady Macbeth, Goneril and Veronica in God of Carnage (Alabama Shakespeare Festival), and Officer Randy in Superior Donuts (The Arden Theatre). She has also appeared on Law & Order: SVU (once as a puppeteer) and was the Speaker of the House on Season 5 of “House of Cards”. Most recently, Jennifer starred in All Hallows’ Eve, a wild, eclectic horror musical created by Martin P. Robinson (Little Shop of Horrors) Her voice can be heard on various educational apps, and as a narrator for the YA novel, “The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle” (Penguin/Random House). Website: www.jenniferbarnhart.com Follow on Instagram: #iamjenbarnhart

Alan Muraoka (Director): NY directing credits: Avenue Q (Off-Broadway Resident Director), Elizabeth Ward Land: Still Within the Sound of My Voice (Green Room 42), Telly Leung: Telly on a Sunday (Birdland-November 2018), The Report (NY Fringe), Kung Fu (Signature Theatre-AD), Ann Harada: American Songbook (Lincoln Center), Awesomer & Awesomer!!! (Triad Theatre), The King and I (Harbor Lights Theatre), Telly Leung: Playlist and What Makes a Man? (54 Below), Ali Ewoldt: From Phantom to Phantom (54 Below), Grand Hotel (NYU/Cap 21) Falsettoland (NAATCO), John Tartaglia: AD-LIBerty (Joe’s Pub) and Christmas Eve with Christmas Eve (BC/EFA Benefits). Regionally: South Pacific and Once on This Island (Olney Theatre), The King & I, Xanadu, Disney’s High School Musical (MUNY, Casa Manana), Urinetown (Trinity University), and Up in the Air (Kennedy Center-AD). Television: “Sesame Street,” Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. As an actor, Alan is most recognizable for his role in the Emmy Award-winning series “Sesame Street,” where he plays “Alan,” the proprietor of Hooper’s Store. He has appeared in 7 Broadway shows: Aladdin, Pacific Overtures, Mail, Shogun, the Musical, My Favorite Year, The King and I (with Lou Diamond Phillips and Donna Murphy), and most notably Miss Saigon, where he played the lead role of the Engineer. Member SSDC & DGA. Website: www.alanmuraoka.net Follow on Instagram: #alanathoopers

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits. Photo by Lia Chang

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 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.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2019 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com