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.
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.
“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.”
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.”
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).
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 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.
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