People’s Light’s planned 2020 production of Jeanne Sakata’s Award winning solo play, Hold These Truths starring Lucille Lortel nominated actor Steven Eng, never saw a live audience last March, though you might have watched it online or caught the WHYY broadcast. Fortunately, the same cast and creative team will reunite in 2022 to finally perform the play in person.
Helmed by Desdemona Chiang, the production will run April 6-May 1, 2022, on People’s Light’s Steinbright Stage in Malvern, PA. People’s Light is located at 39 Conestoga Rd, Malvern, PA 19355. Click here to purchase tickets and for more information.
Based on the inspiring true story of Gordon Hirabayashi, Steven Eng plays real-life activist Gordon Hirabayashi and 37 other characters in this critically acclaimed solo play. As a young man, Gordon struggles to reconcile his admiration for the U.S. Constitution with the government’s 1942 orders resulting in the forced removal and internment of over 120,000 people of Japanese descent. Marked by hope, humor, and an irrepressible zest for life, Gordon’s journey of resistance ultimately leads to the famous Supreme Court case Hirabayashi v. United States-a legacy that continues to resonate today.
Below are photographs from the company’s New York rehearsal in 2020.
As an actor, Steven Eng has worked throughout NYC, the U.S. and internationally, including London’s West End, Classic Stage Company (2018 Lortel nom.), New York Philharmonic, Ensemble Studio Theatre, ShakespeareNYC, Prospect Theater Company, A.C.T., 5th Avenue Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse, Paper Mill Playhouse, Alliance Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse, TUTS, Dallas Theater Center, and many more, as well as in Germany, Austria, and Cambodia. He is a co-founder of the nonprofit National Asian Artists Project and a director. He’s also taught numerous workshops and is on the faculty of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Columbia University, and HB Studio, and has served as a grants panelist for the NEA. MFA from GWU/ACA and BFA from SMU.
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 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. 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, was broadcast on the radio in 2021.
Called a “local treasure” by the Los Angeles Times, Jeanne has enjoyed guest star/recurring roles onscreen in Jennifer Phang’s internationally acclaimed indie film, Advantageous, and on the TV series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Station 19, NCIS Los Angeles, Big Hero 6, Dr. Ken, Bravo’s True Fiction, Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns, Desperate Housewives, Presidio Med, ER, Threat Matrix, Line of Fire, American Family, John Ridley’s I Got You, Hiroshima, and Sex and Marriage, a Justin Lin YOMYOMF YouTube webseries. Onstage, Jeanne has performed with the Vineyard Theatre, Public Theater, Lincoln Center Theater, Kennedy Center, Mark Taper Forum, Geffen Playhouse, South Coast Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, American Conservatory Theater, Northlight Theatre, Intiman Theatre, Berkeley Rep, A Contemporary Theatre, Portland Center Stage, People’s Light, Sundance Theatre Institute, Syracuse Stage and the Arizona Theatre Company.
Special honors: Theatre LA Ovation Award for Outstanding Lead Actress, Chay Yew’s Red, East West Players; 2019 Trailblazer Award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement, East West Players; 2016 Lee Melville Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Los Angeles Theatre Community, Playwrights’ Arena; Outstanding Artist Award, Los Angeles’ Pacific American Friends of Theatre. www.jeannesakata.com, www.holdthesetruths.info
The creative team features Stage Manager Matthew Luppino, Set Design by Se Hyun Oh, Costume Design by Katie Yamaguchi, Lighting Design by Dawn Chiang, Sound Design by Hidenori Nakajo, Dramaturgy by Gina Pisasale.
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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