Photos: Closing Night of San Francisco Playhouse’s Production of Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS

San Francisco Playhouse. Photo by Lia Chang

San Francisco Playhouse and executive producers Betty & Cliff Nakamoto in collaboration with Capital Stage presented a fully staged production of Jeanne Sakata’s critically-acclaimed play, Hold These Truths starring Bay Area favorite Jomar Tagatac as Gordon Hirabayashi, under the direction of Jeffrey Lo. 

This co-production of Hold These Truths marked San Francisco Playhouse’s return to in-person performances and was available for audiences to enjoy at home on-demand, Jun. 8 – Jul. 3. San Francisco Playhouse followed strict health and safety protocols to minimize risks to patrons, actors, and staff.

San Francisco Playhouse. Photo by Lia Chang

The Sacramento Premiere and the second leg of Hold These Truths performances begin on Wednesday, August 25 and continue through Saturday, September 26. Opening night is set for Saturday, August 28 at Capital Stage, 2215 J Street, Sacramento, CA. Click here for more information.

Hold These Truths is based on the incredible true story of one of America’s unsung heroes. In February 1942, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, authorizing the relocation and incarceration of tens of thousands of innocent American citizens of Japanese ancestry. Among these citizens was Gordon Hirabayashi, whose defiance of the internment order catapulted him into a 50-year journey of conscience to protect the Constitution from a country that viewed him as the enemy. Hold These Truths was inspired by many hours of interviews conducted by playwright Jeanne Sakata with Mr. Hirabayashi as well as numerous primary sources from his life.

Tim Patterson and his wife, Jeanne Sakata. Photo by Lia Chang

Playwright Jeanne Sakata and her husband Tim Patterson flew in from Los Angeles to attend the matinee. The day also marked their 45th wedding anniversary, and the pair returned after the closing night performance for a celebratory champagne toast with the cast and creative team. The Watsonville native shared, “San Francisco has so many happy childhood and family memories for me. My cousin Sandra Sakata owned the Obiko Boutique and championed local bay area artists, asking them to design wearable art. She nurtured me as a young actor and a young writer. San Francisco is where I was really introduced to the performing arts. It means the world to me to bring Hold These Truths to San Francisco Playhouse.”

A toast to the San Francisco Playhouse run of Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS. Photo by Lia Chang

The creative team includes Christopher Fitzer (Scenic Designer, Costume Designer, Properties Designer), Heather Kenyon (Lighting Designer), Teddy Hulsker (Sound Designer, Projections Designer), Wolfgang Lancelot Wachalovsky (Video Editor), Sarah Marie Selig (Stage Manager), Ada May (Production Assistant), Janel Miley (Dialect Coach), Yuto Shinagawa (Japanese Dialect & Production Coach), and Cliff Nakamoto (Cultural Consultant). 

A toast to the San Francisco Playhouse run of Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS. Photo by Lia Chang

What the critics are saying: 

“A stellar performance by Jomar Tagatac… a marvelously nuanced portrait displaying both the vulnerability of a man challenged by a great injustice and the strength of perseverance and determination to challenge a system and right a great wrong…Tagatac and Director Jeffery Lo work their magic supported by excellent lighting by Heather Kenyon, sound by Teddy Hulsker and scenic design by Christopher Fitzer.”
San Francisco Playhouse Artistic Director Bill English, HOLD THESE TRUTHS Playwright Jeanne Sakata and her husband, Tim Patterson toast the closing night performance. Photo by Lia Chang
“The great Bay Area-based Jomar Tagatac…plays the man with sweet depth and comic turns as he encounters, picaresque-like, a broad swath of humanity across the vast spectrum of WWII-era America. It’s a moving masterclass of live, in-person performance with teeth made sharp by its relevance today. But as important as its relevance is its elegance. Director Jeffrey Lo uses a spare stage with simple projected graphics to support Tagatac as he takes us on a lifetime journey from boy to man to American icon. A single suitcase serves both literal and figurative purposes throughout the play, most pointedly as to examine the possessions one must part with versus those one must keep to in order to survive the emotional and economic violence of being dispossessed.”
Jomar Tagatac. Photo by Lia Chang
“Sensitively directed by Jeffrey Lo and performed by the sublimely talented Jomar Tagatac, it couldn’t be a better production. “
“While SF Playhouse’s safety precautions are impressive, they pale in comparison to the production on stage. A stellar performance by Jomar Tagatac, Teddy Hulsker’s powerful video and Christopher Fitzer’s versatile set combine for a powerful look at past systemic racism in American culture. Director Jeffrey Lo deftly directs Tagatac.”

Jomar Tagatac appeared at San Francisco Playhouse as Mark in Art, and DJ Loki in Today is My Birthday (Theater Mu). At A.C.T. he was seen as Mr. Botard in Rhinoceros and Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol. Other credits include Playwright and others in Vietgone, Fortinbras in Hamlet, George in The Language Archive (Theatreworks), Actor 1 in King of the Yees (San Francisco Playhouse); Quang in Vietgone (Capital Stage Company); The War of the Roses, Macbeth, EverybodyAs You Like It (CalShakes), The Happy Ones, and Dogeaters (Magic Theatre). Jomar is a recipient of a Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award for Principle Actor in a Play, and TBA Award for Outstanding Performance in a Featured Role. He earned an MFA from A.C.T.

Jomar Tagatac and Jeffrey Lo. Photo by Lia Chang

Jeffrey Lo is a Filipino-American playwright and director based in the Bay Area. He is the recipient of the Leigh Weimers Emerging Artist Award, the Emerging Artist Laureate by Arts Council Silicon Valley and Theatre Bay Area Director’s TITAN Award. In addition to his work in theatre he works as an educator and advocate for issues of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and has served as a grant panelist for the Zellerbach Family Foundation, Silicon Valley Creates and Theatre Bay Area. He is the Director Community Partnerships and Casting Director at the Tony Award Winning TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, a graduate of the Multicultural Arts Leadership Institute and a proud alumnus of the UC Irvine Drama Department.

Jeanne Sakata. Photo by Lia Chang

Jeanne Sakata’s celebrated solo play Hold These Truths (2013 Drama Desk Nomination, Outstanding Solo Performance; 2019 Theatre Bay Awards, Outstanding Production, Principal Performance and Direction) won accolades in 2019 at San Diego Rep and Barrington Stage (encore run by audience demand) after extended 2018 runs at Arena Stage and TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, and sold-out shows with the Guthrie Theater, Pasadena Playhouse, Portland Center Stage, ACT Seattle, and PlayMakers Rep. Hold These Truths was recently aired on TV in Philadelphia’s local PBS station, WHYY TV, in a filmed performance produced by People’s Light and Theatre., and is available internationally as a radio play, produced by L.A. Theatre Works. The play, winning rave reviews from The New Yorker, New York Times, and other AP critics, has also been produced in recent years at 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. There have been more than 20 productions to date. 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, and is inspired by the true story of Japanese American civil rights giant Gordon Hirabayashi, to whom President Obama posthumously awarded in 2012 a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Hold These Truths, now published by Ageloff Books and available on Amazon, is also 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. Jeanne’s latest work, FOR US ALL, a radio play commissioned by LA Theatre Works and inspired by the 1980’s coram nobis legal battle of Fred Korematsu, will be broadcast on radio in 2021.

Jeanne Sakata, Jomar Tagatac, Jeffrey Lo. Photo by Lia Chang

San Francisco Playhouse Artistic Director Bill English will direct Lauren Yee’s The Song of Summer featuring Riley Cheng, Anne Darragh*, Riley Hashimoto, Monica Ho*, Jeremy Kahn*, and Reggie D. White*, the  company’s second in-person production since the coronavirus pandemic began, following Hold These Truths. The show will also be available as an on-demand video stream for audiences to enjoy at home. In-person performances at 450 Post Street will take place July 20 through August 14, 2021, with reduced audience capacity. The on-demand video stream will be available July 24 through August 14, 2021. Click here for tickets and more information.

Jomar Tagatac, Jeanne Sakata, Bill English and Jeffrey Lo. Photo by Lia Chang
Jeanne Sakata, Jomar Tagatac, Jeffrey Lo and Lia Chang. Photo by Tim Patterson
Yuto Shinagawa, Marie-Claire Erdynast, Jeanne Sakata, Tim Patterson, Jomar Tagatac, Bill English, Jeffrey Lo, Laura Lorber. Photo by Lia Chang
Jeff Lamb, Leianne Lamb, Jeanne Sakata and Tim Patterson. Photo by Lia Chang
Leianne Lamb, Jomar Tagatac, Jeffrey Lo and Jeanne Sakata. Photo by Lia Chang
Anne Mizota Yamada and Jeanne Sakata. Photo by Lia Chang
Lia Chang, Tim Patterson and Jeanne Sakata.
Leianne Lamb, Jeff Lamb, Jeanne Sakata, Timothy John Patterson, Lia Chang. Photo courtesy of Leianne Lamb

About San Francisco Playhouse
Founded by Bill English and Susi Damilano in 2003, San Francisco Playhouse has been described by the New York Times as “a company that stages some of the most consistently high-quality work around” and deemed “ever adventurous” by the Bay Area News Group. Located in the heart of the Union Square Theater District, San Francisco Playhouse is the city’s premier Off-Broadway company, an intimate alternative to the larger more traditional Union Square theater fare. San Francisco Playhouse provides audiences the opportunity to experience professional theater with top-notch actors and world-class design in a setting where they are close to the action. The company has received multiple awards for overall productions, acting, and design, including the SF Weekly Best Theatre Award and the Bay Guardian’s Best Off-Broadway Theatre Award, as well as three consecutive Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards for Best Entire Production in the Bay Area (2016-2018). KQED/NPR recently described the company: “San Francisco Playhouse is one of the few theaters in the Bay Area that has a mission that actually shows up on stage. Artistic director Bill English’s commitment to empathy as a guiding philosophical and aesthetic force is admirable and by living that mission, fascinating things happen onstage.” San Francisco Playhouse is committed to providing a creative home and inspiring environment where actors, directors, writers, designers, and theater lovers converge to create and experience dramatic works that celebrate the human spirit.

Broadwayworld: Photos: San Francisco Playhouse Celebrates Closing Night Of Jeanne Sakata’s HOLD THESE TRUTHS

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. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young (2021 DisOrient Film Audience Choice Award for Best Short Narrative). She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs.

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