Created in response to the sharp rise in hate directed toward the AAPI community over the past few years, Boston Court Pasadena, East West Players, and Pasadena Playhouse have joined forces to share a virtual reading of Jeanne Sakata’s timely solo play Hold These Truths. The evening is co-directed by Jessica Kubzansky and Margaret Shigeko Starbuck.
This live-streamed event features six of the wonderful actors who have given tour-de-force solo performances as Gordon in Hold These Truths productions across the country and around the world. The event will be hosted by Tamlyn Tomita and Sean Miura and live-streamed on Monday, February 28th at 6PM PST/9PM EST. All attendees must register by visiting bit.ly/HoldTheseTruthsVirtual. The event will be available as a video on demand for 48 hours following the live-stream on the 28th.
All proceeds raised through this event will go to the Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists and the incredible work they do to promote AAPI artists and to contribute to our national theatre ecology. You are invited to this special event to honor, support, and uplift our amazing community of AAPI Theatre Artists.
Hold These Truths, an exceptional evening of theatrical storytelling, tells the inspirational true story of a civil rights hero, Gordon Hirabayashi, who took his World War ll fight for his constitutional rights all the way to the Supreme Court. Playwright Jeanne Sakata relayed to BroadwayWorld, “In the 1990’s, I saw on PBS a documentary film made by John de Graaf called A Personal Matter: Hirabayashi vs. The United States, where I first learned about Gordon. And I was just floored, because here was this absolutely riveting story about a young Japanese American college student who had taken such a brave stand for his rights as an American citizen, and I had never heard about him. It was fascinating, and enthralling, and also upsetting at the same time. I asked myself the same question that many people ask when they come to see the play: “Why haven’t I heard this story before? Why isn’t it in our history books?” After that, I became absolutely obsessed with the story and determined that I was going to find out everything I could about it.”
75 years ago, Executive Order 9066 called for all people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast to be ripped from their homes and forced into barbed-wire prison camps, without due process of law. Amid the chaos, one young student stood up for what he passionately believed were his rights as an American citizen. Based on a true story which follows the life of civil rights hero Gordon Hirabayashi, Hold These Truths is a shockingly relevant cautionary tale of the injustices perpetrated when nationalism, fear, and hysteria collide.
Playwright Jeanne Sakata says, “It’s been an incredible joy and honor to have worked with so many brilliant AAPI actors who have performed Hold These Truths over the last 15 years, and who have shared Gordon Hirabayashi’s story all across the country. With six of those actors – Ryun Yu, Greg Watanabe, Michael Hisamoto, Hansel Tan, Jomar Tagatac, and Steven Eng – now joining forces to raise money for CAATA so that more AAPI artists can share their stories as well, I’m grateful to be reminded of the great power of our individual and collective voices in combating the anti-AAPI hate and violence of our times-the same forces that our parents and grandparents faced so courageously before us-and to celebrate these stories that tell the world, “we are here, and we are here to stay.”
“On behalf of the Board of Directors of CAATA, we have long been fans of playwright Jeanne Sakata and her powerful play about the life of American hero Gordon Hirabayashi, and his resistance to the Japanese American incarceration during World War II,” said CAATA Board President Leslie Ishii. “We are grateful to our member theater East West Players, as well as Boston Court Pasadena and Pasadena Playhouse for designating CAATA the recipient of this benefit. Funds raised will go directly toward CAATA’s programs to advance the field of Asian and Pacific Islander American theater through our national network of organizations and artists, and we thank you for your support.”
CAATA says, “Our mission is to advance the field of Asian American theater through a national network of organizations and artists. We collaborate to inspire learning and sharing of knowledge, and resources to promote a healthy, sustainable artistic ecology. As a collective of Asian American theater leaders and artists, we bring together local and regional leaders to work nationally toward our shared values of social justice, artistic diversity, cultural equity and inclusion. We hold national conferences and festivals biennially in different parts of the country, reaching as wide a range of Asian American populations and communities as possible. We survey Asian American theater artists and organizations to find out their foremost concerns. We form alliances with other theater groups of different affinities to advance mutual goals cooperatively and to exchange ideas and strategies.” (caata.net)
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, Magnum P.I., NCIS Hawai’i, 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
Lia Chang loves to tell stories – as an actor, a multi-media content producer, a performing arts photographer and an award-winning filmmaker. A co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, Lia makes films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, and The Last Dragon. She stars in and is the Executive Producer for the indie films Hide and Seek (AA Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Best Actress Nomination), Rom-Com Gone Wrong, and When the World Was Young (2021 DisOrient Film Audience Choice Award for Best Short Narrative). Lia made her stage debut as Liat in a national tour of South Pacific with Barbara Eden and Robert Goulet, was featured as Joy in Signature Theatre’s revival of Sam Shepard’s Chicago and has worked extensively Off-Broadway. Photo archives: Lia Chang Theater Portfolio collection,1989-2011, housed in the AAPI collection in the Library of Congress’ Asian Reading Room; Lia Chang Photography Collection in The Billy Rose Theatre Division of the New York Public Library. Awards: 2000 OCA Chinese American Journalist Award, the 2001 AAJA National Award for New Media. Lia is an AAJA Executive Leadership Graduate (2000), a Western Knight Fellow at USC’s Annenberg College of Communications for Specialized Journalism on Entertainment Journalism in the Digital Age (2000), a National Press Photographers Association Visual Edge/Visual Journalism Fellow at the Poynter Institute for New Media (2001), a Scripps Howard New Media Fellow at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism (2002), and a National Tropical Garden Environmental Journalism Fellow (2003). www.liachang.com, www.liachangphotography.com